Catcher Michael Cruz was assigned to the Rocket City Trash Pandas for his first career Double-A action in 2021. At the plate, he has been the Trash Pandas’ most consistent catcher. In 49 games, he has accounted for nine home and 26 RBI, along with a .262 batting average and
Catcher Michael Cruz was assigned to the Rocket City Trash Pandas for his first career Double-A action in 2021. At the plate, he has been the Trash Pandas’ most consistent catcher. In 49 games, he has accounted for nine home and 26 RBI, along with a .262 batting average and .282 on-base percentage. Recently, he hit two home runs and drove in all four runs of a 4-2 Trash Pandas win at Tennessee on August 15.
Born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, Cruz described the move to the Trash Pandas as, “unexpected, but for the best,” after bouncing around numerous teams for the first four years of his career. “I was immediately welcomed as family, which was really appreciated.”
Cruz is ecstatic about this organization because of the game day atmosphere and excitement created by the fans, and the nice amenities that are supplied to players and Trash Pandas fans.
Before being selected by the Chicago Cubs in the seventh round of the 2016 draft, Cruz attended Bethune Cookman University, a Historically Black University located near Daytona Beach, FL.
“That was the time of his life, benefitting from amazing weather conditions and unconditional support from the school, teachers, and his teammates,” Cruz said of the college experience.
“I knew when I was 14. I was hanging around older guys that were 17 or 18 years old that had the same ambition and passion for getting drafted as professional baseball players,” he said of his first professional ambitions.
Cruz said that being motivated at such a young age drove him to want to dedicate his life to become a better baseball player every day, which is what he did to land in this position in the Rocket City.
“Taking care of your body prior to and after games is crucial to being a successful catcher,” he said of the most important advice to young catchers with dreams of playing professional baseball.
He added that his pre-game routine consists of spending time talking with his family for 20 minutes before each game, which is followed by meditating so that he can concentrate on the game plan. After that, he warms up by stretching and drinks coconut water, which is one aspect of his routine that he could not do without.
Despite six years of professional experience, Cruz admits that some aspects of being a catcher are tougher than others.
“Staying mentally engaged for 9 innings is the most difficult part,” he said. “It is challenging to be ready for all game calls and in-game scenarios.”
It is a catcher’s job to be able to interpret a pitch, be aware of their pitchers’ shortcomings, and be able to assist when he is having trouble. Before each game the catchers and pitchers have a meeting, which is vital for the catcher-pitcher relationship. During the meeting they discuss strategies to utilize against the opposing team and formulate a successful game plan.
Cruz’s passion for baseball is undeniable, which made the cancellation of the 2020 season hard to handle. However, he made the most out of a bad situation and spent his off time back home with his wife, child, and the rest of his family in Puerto Rico.
He admitted the timing was Inconvenient, but that he appreciated being able to take advantage of an extra opportunity to spend time with his family.
Cruz wants his fans to know that he is a kind, easy going person when he is not at work, as the Trash Pandas continue to entertain in their inaugural season. In fact, he enjoys spending his free time listening to music and brushing up on his English, which he learned in just 6 months. He will continue to hone his craft both on and off the field as the Trash Pandas enter the final stretch of their inaugural season.