I can only imagine that Gerald Harman, Bill Turner and Mike Bocock were rather pleased when they heard that Jeremy Cruz, a rising senior at Stetson, would like to return to the Valley for a second year. Cruz had a stellar 2007 campaign, after all, even receiving the #9 hitter placement from ATVL. Even though the Wranglers fell just short in the finals against Waynesboro, Cruz hit 271/358/527 with 9 home runs and 31 RBI in 129 at-bats.
In my writeup last September 4th, I wrote: "Don't be surprised if Mr. Cruz has a breakout season in college this year!" Seldom do I hit the nail on the head like this one. Returning to Stetson for his junior year, Cruz hit 404/467/704 in 223 at-bats, with 18 doubles, 15 home runs, 57 runs, 57 RBI, and a 28/42 BB/K ratio.
Then the braintrust in Luray got him back. Named to the second team All-Valley League at designated hitter, Cruz hit 308/372/530 in 117 at-bats. He hit 8 doubles, 6 home runs, scored 14 runs, drove in 19, and had a 9/42 BB/K ratio.
The generally unknown piece of this story is that Jeremy was hitting on one leg for much of the summer. In the second or third game of the season, Cruz hyperextended his right (back) leg. He felt like he was a slap hitter for much of the summer, but how a slap hitter puts up a .530 slugging percentage... well, let's just say that even on one leg, Jeremy Cruz has enviable power.
Cruz enjoyed his two seasons in the Valley, saying, "It was huge [for my development]; making the adjustment to a wood bat, having a smarter approach at the plate."
Cruz also enjoyed winning the league championship after finishing second in 2007, saying, "It was great! We never doubted ourselves, and put it all together at the end. We really clicked when the playoffs started."
Now Cruz has to go out and hit like he did as a junior, helping to lead a young Stetson team, and hopefully get drafted next June.