HOUSTON – On Tuesday, Jose Cruz Jr. was introduced as head baseball coach at his alma mater, Rice University.
“I’m ecstatic,” he said. “I’m super excited. This is very emotional for me.”
Cruz, 47, was a three-time All American for the Owls back in the 1990s before becoming the third overall pick in the 1995 MLB Draft. He hopes to bring similar success that he experienced at Rice back to the Owls, a program that fell short of expectations under previous coach Matt Bragga.
“It’s surreal in many ways, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m ready. I think my staff is going to be in-tune with my vision and what I want to do here.”
Cruz joins Rice from the Detroit Tigers where he was in his first season serving as an assistant hitting coach under former Astros skipper A.J. Hinch.
In some ways, Jose Cruz Jr. helped put Rice baseball on the map when he signed with them in 1992. He opted to remain home after leading Houston’s Bellaire High School to the top-ranking school in the country in 1992. His commitment to Rice, according to the university, was a turning point in legendary coach Wayne Graham’s efforts to attract top talent to Rice.
His father, Jose Cruz Sr., remains one of the most beloved players in Houston Astros history.
Two of Jose Cruz Jr.’s sons have played for the Owls.
“I was talking to a friend of mine today and I was telling him about getting this job and I’m like, ‘Hey, dreams do come true.’”