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Nelson Cruz's Potential

Nelson Cruz raked at Triple-A in 2008 (37 home runs, 24 steals) and continued that production for a month with the Rangers.  We touted him as a big sleeper heading into '09, and as an 11th-round pick he returned great value (33 home runs, 20 steals).  A sprained ankle limited him to 515 plate appearances that year, and we felt he was still being undervalued in 2010 drafts as a sixth-rounder.

However, Cruz hit the DL three separate times in 2010 for a hamstring injury.  He picked up only 445 PAs, but his numbers were even better - a .318 average, 22 home runs, and 17 steals.  His home run rate was down, but his slugging percentage increased.

Since 2008 Cruz is hitting .292/.360/.555 in 1093 big league plate appearances, with 62 home runs, 180 RBIs, 154 runs, and 40 steals.  What if Cruz finally stays healthy in 2011?  89 players racked up 600+ PAs this year.  If Cruz reaches that level, his last three years suggest something like .292-34-99-85-22.  Few players can match that, and the ceiling could be more like 40 homers, 120 ribbies, and 25 steals.  Here's hoping Cruz goes in the sixth round or later again in 2011.

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