Frankie De La Cruz, who was among the key prospects traded by the Detroit Tigers to the then-Florida Marlins for Miguel Cabrera in 2007, died of a heart attack on Sunday. He was 37.
De La Cruz’s Dominican Winter League team announced the right-handed pitcher’s death. The Detroit News first reported the cause of death.
“We wake up with sadness after learning the terrible news of the loss of our Eulogio ‘Frankie’ De La Cruz,” Toros del Este said in a statement. “Our condolences to his family and friends for this terrible loss. May his soul be at peace.”
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Detroit signed De La Cruz out of the Dominican Republic when he was 17. Six years later, he was a part of a blockbuster trade that helped the Tigers land Cabrera.
He, Dallas Trahem, Burke Badenhop, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and Mike Rabelo were traded to the Marlins for Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.
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“He was one of those guys that could really light up a clubhouse. And he had quite an arm,” Matt Walbeck, De La Cruz’s former minor league manager in the Tigers’ organization, told The Detroit News. “He threw really hard, straight over the top with a four-seam fastball that touched 100 mph. When he was on, he was fun to watch.”
De La Cruz got to the big leagues for four different MLB teams between 2007 and 2011. Aside from the Tigers and Marlins, he pitched for the San Diego Padres and Milwaukee Brewers.
In 26 appearances, he recorded an 8.16 ERA and 20 strikeouts.
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His career wasn’t limited to MLB. He pitched in Japan, Taiwan, Italy, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.