After paying his dues in the Empire Professional Baseball League, an independent league in Puerto Rico, Guam’s Sean Cruz is moving up.
On July 1, Cruz announced that he signed a contract with the Quebec Capitales. The Capitales, a professional baseball team, play in the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball league in Quebec City, Canada.
"Now, I have to continue to do my job and continue to trust what got me here," Cruz said. "Other than that, I'm excited, man.”
Since moving to a starting pitcher role for the Puerto Rico Islanders, Cruz has been hard to hit. With a 3-2 record, including two complete games and recording 28 strikeouts, he posted a 1.60 ERA. With those numbers, the Guamanian made the EPBL All-Star Game.
For Cruz, a 2012 Southern High School graduate, he wasted little time getting noticed in Puerto Rico. With a fastball hovering around 92 mph, a major league change-up, and a quality breaking ball, in just two months he moved up in the Islanders rotation.
“I didn’t think, as a rookie in professional baseball, that I would be No. 1 in the rotation right off the bat,” Cruz said. “After the first two starts, I realized that even though playing at the professional level is business ... I had to start having fun. I’m having fun now.”
Cruz "has the potential to go a long way in this game," said Jerry Gonzalez, EPBL vice president of baseball operations, in an interview with Empire Media.
Uncertainty to success
Four years ago, after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Cruz’s baseball future was filled with uncertainty. But, after putting up solid numbers at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, and impressing scouts in summer league baseball, his future is brighter than ever.
“Without hard work, you won’t get anywhere,” Cruz said. “You have to own it.”
Believing that he has the goods to make it to the major league, Cruz said he hopes to inspire the next generation of Guam’s talented baseball players.
Cruz said he would tell his 18-year-old self to "continue to grind and trust the struggle."
"The route you’ve chosen to take isn’t an easy one, but with the right mindset and drive anything can be attained. Remain humble and be grateful to be able to pick up a baseball every day,” he added.