For the third time in the last four years, the Houston Astros have added a Rice University graduate to their staff. Jose Enrique Cruz, former professional baseball player and 2013 graduate of Rice, has accepted a position with the organization as an Account Executive in the corporate arm of the National Partnership Development department.
Cruz, son of legendary Astros player Jose Cruz, has had a connection with baseball his entire life. He led Houston’s Bellaire High School to both a State and a National Championship in 1999, and led Rice to its only National Championship in 2003 as an All-American. He left school early to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball after being drafted in the 13th round of the 2003 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees. Cruz proceeded to play in the minor league systems of the Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and New York Mets before calling it quits on his professional baseball career in 2009. His career statistics can be found here.
Following his playing career, Cruz served as the Director of Winter Ball Affairs for Beverly Hills Sports Council, where his role was to recruit new talent and serve the needs of teams and players in the Dominican Republic. Up until his signing with the Astros, Cruz focused much of his time with his company, Cruz Baseball, where he provides baseball instruction to elementary school kids in the Houston area. Cruz runs the organization with friend and former high school teammate Rocky Flores.
Cruz, now 34, returned to Rice in 2013 to complete the final year of his degree in Sport Management. He joins Evan Stackpole '14 and Justin Wolin '15 as recent Sport Management graduates to sign on with the Astros.
“For me, coming back and finishing what I started in 2000 was very important,” Cruz said. “It was a very special family moment with my brother and I graduating on the same day. I loved being a Rice student-athlete, and I love even more being a Rice Owl graduate."
Cruz becomes the third member of his immediately family to have a professional affiliation with the Astros, joining his father and his brother. Cruz’s father, Jose Sr., spent 13 seasons with the Astros, holds the club record for most triples (80), and has been a part of all nine of the Astros’ playoff appearances, both as a player and a coach. He is currently in his 32nd year as a part of the team and serves as a Special Assistant to General Manager Jeff Luhnow. Cruz’s brother, Jose Jr., a 3-time All-American at Rice (1993–1995), spent 12 seasons in the MLB, including the 2008 season with Houston. He also completed his degree at Rice in Sport Management in 2013.
“Officially working for the Houston Astros is a dream come true,” Cruz said. “I am a Houstonian and I have been an Astros fan since the day I was born. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of an organization that has been ingrained into my life from a very young age.“
Neel Ahuja, a senior from Corpus Christi, Texas, is majoring in Economics and Sport Management.