A fan-favorite and productive player for the Owls many years ago, Rice baseball is expected to hire Jose Cruz Jr. as their next head coach.
A little more than two weeks from the start of their search, Rice baseball has a new head coach. The Owls will tab Jose Cruz Jr. to run their program.
Rice had options when it came to its coaching search. The Owls could have sought out an established assistant and were linked to some noteworthy candidates in recent weeks. Instead, Rice will return to its roots. Cruz. Jr checks both boxes given his relationship with the program’s past and present as well as experience playing and coaching at the highest levels.
Cruz Jr. returns to South Main where he first made his name for himself on the diamond. A three-time All-American with the Owls, Cruz Jr. went on to be selected as the No. 3 overall pick in the 1995 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners. He went on to play for several teams in his 12 year MLB career, spending most of his time with the Toronto Blue Jays.
He most recently accepted a job as a hitting coach with the Detroit Tigers in December of 2020 where his son, Trei Cruz, was recently selected as a third round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft.
In addition to his time as a player at Rice, Cruz Jr. has been a fixture around Reckling Park in recent seasons. His sons Trei and Antonio Cruz were both members of the Owls’ team in recent seasons, giving Cruz Jr. ample reason to frequent campus and stay in touch with the program that he’ll now take over full time.