Cruz Jr. among Astros signings
Four given Minor League contracts, invited to Spring Training
HOUSTON -- Jose Cruz Jr., son of Astros first-base coach Jose Cruz, is one of four players invited to the Astros' Spring Training camp after signing Minor League contracts with the Astros on Wednesday.
The outfielder will be joined by infielders Kevin Hooper and Tomas Perez and left-handed pitcher Stephen Randolph. The announcement was made by general manager Ed Wade.
The younger Cruz, 33, hit .234 with six home runs and 21 RBIs in 91 games with San Diego in 2007. He played all three outfield positions for the Padres last season, making the majority of his starts in left field. In 11 Major League seasons with Seattle (1997), Toronto (1997-2002), San Francisco (2003), Tampa Bay (2004), Arizona (2005), Boston (2005), Los Angeles (NL) (2005-06) and San Diego (2007) he has hit .248 with 204 home runs, 623 RBIs, and 113 stolen bases. He is one of 18 active outfielders to record at least 200 career home runs and 100 stolen bases in his career.
A former standout at Rice University, Cruz Jr. was the first-round selection (third player overall) of the Seattle Mariners in the 1995 First-Year Player Draft. His father's No. 25 was retired by the Astros in 1992.
Cruz Jr. joins an outfield group that currently includes Carlos Lee, Michael Bourn, Hunter Pence, Luke Scott, Yordany Ramirez and Reggie Abercrombie.
The 33-year-old Randolph made 14 appearances for the Astros in 2007, finishing 0-1 with a 12.15 ERA. A non-roster invitee to Astros Spring Training in 2007, Randolph posted a 10-2 record with four saves and a 1.90 ERA in 31 games at Triple-A Round Rock. In three Major League seasons with Arizona (2003-04) and Houston (2007), Randolph is 10-7 with a 5.52 ERA.
The hard-throwing lefty will be trying to win a bullpen job and a spot on a 40-man roster that has just three other southpaws: Wandy Rodriguez, Mark McLemore and Troy Patton.
Hooper, 30, played in 60 games with Triple-A Toledo in 2007 and hit .301 with one home run and 19 RBIs. He appeared in 52 games at second base and eight games at shortstop. Hooper played in 14 games with Detroit from 2005-06, with one hit in eight at bats.
Perez, 33, split last season between Triple-A Las Vegas and Triple-A Charlotte and combined to hit .254 with six home runs and 56 RBIs between the two clubs. Following a midseason trade from the Dodgers to the White Sox organization, Perez appeared in 88 games at Charlotte, serving as the club's primary shortstop. Perez, a 11-year Major League veteran and switch-hitter, owns a .240 Major League average with 24 home runs and 180 RBIs in 781 games with Toronto (1995-98), Philadelphia (2000-05) and Tampa Bay (2006).
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.