Red Sox pitching prospect Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz made his professional debut in the Florida Complex League on Tuesday afternoon.
Matched up against the FCL Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, the right-hander allowed just two hits and no walks to go along with two strikeouts over four scoreless innings to lead the FCL Red Sox to an 11-0 win.
While pitch counts from these games are not available to the public, Rodriguez-Cruz took a no-hitter into the third inning and wound up retiring 12 of the 14 batters he faced.
The Red Sox originally selected Rodriguez-Cruz in the fourth round of the 2021 amateur draft out of Leadership Christian Academy in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. They swayed the 18-year-old away from his commitment to the University of Oregon by signing him for $497,500.
After not pitching competitively last season, Rodriguez-Cruz took part in the Sox’ fall performance program and came into the year ranked by FanGraphs as the No. 43 prospect in Boston’s farm system.
Back in March, FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin described Rodriguez-Cruz as “a very projectable righty” who “showed a loose, whippy, inconsistent delivery on the showcase circuit and was sitting mostly 91-92 mph while topping out at 94. His curveball has good-looking shape but lacks power, and he has pretty crude feel for creating action on his changeup, but ERC is a premium arm talent developmental prospect.”
Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-3, 160 pound righty works at 90-93 mph and tops out at 95 mph with his fastball, 75-78 mph with his curveball, and 80-83 mph with his changeup.
Given that he does not turn 19 until August, it seems likely that the Red Sox will exhibit patience when it comes to Rodriguez’s development. The upside is certainly there, but on the flip side of that, there is no need to rush things.
(Picture of Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)