The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed relief pitcher Juan Cruz to a minor league contact with an invitation to Spring Training, as the team announced on Wednesday. Cruz has bounced around with numerous teams since hitting the majors as an elite, flame-throwing pitching prospect back in 2001.
Now 33, Cruz spent the 2011 season pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays. While he no longer throws quite as hard as he did back in the day, he still sat around 93 MPH with his fastball and has begun to work different pitches into his approach more frequently. In 48 innings with the Rays in 2011, Cruz posted a 3.88 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 28 walks.
In Pittsburgh, Cruz should have a decent shot to break camp with the team. Closer Joel Hanrahan is the only truly obvious lock for a spot in the bullpen, so he should have a solid chance against the likes of Chris Resop, Daniel Moskos, Jared Hughes and Chris Leroux.