Astros draft Rice-bound Cruz in 35th round

Trei hopes to follow path of dad, grandfather after college

Astros draft Rice-bound Cruz in 35th round

HOUSTON -- The Cruz name is nothing short of baseball royalty in Houston.

Jose Cruz was an extremely popular outfielder who played 13 years with the Astros and had his No. 25 retired by the club. Jose Cruz Jr., who went to Bellaire High School and Rice University in Houston, played 12 years in the big leagues, ending his career with the Astros in 2008. His brother, Enrique Cruz, won a state championship at Bellaire and started on Rice's 2003 NCAA championship team.

The Cruz legacy remains alive and well in Cruz Jr.'s son, Trei Cruz, a switch-hitting shortstop from Episcopal High School in Houston who was drafted in the 35th round by the Astros on Wednesday. Trei is likely to honor his commitment to -- you guessed it -- Rice.

"At this point, I'm probably going to Rice because I have confidence in three years I can get drafted and I could be the Astros' first selection," said Trei, who hit an eighth-inning homer to give Episcopal a private-school state title in May. "I'll end up going to Rice, but I definitely did take it into consideration because playing Major League Baseball is what I want to do with my life, and if I wait a couple of years, it could work out better."

Astros director of scouting and player development Mike Elias said the team drafted Cruz for his talent and not just the legacy.

"He comes from a great baseball family, obviously, with a lot of Astros and Houston roots," Elias said. "But even that aside, he's a pro-caliber talent. It's usually very hard to sign kids away from Rice. I know he's an academic-oriented kid, so we'll see what happens, but he's got a bright future in baseball ahead of him."

Jose Cruz Jr. was at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday when he got the news. He was the No. 3 overall pick to Seattle in the 1995 Draft and hit 204 homers in the big leagues.

"I'm grinning from ear to ear," Cruz Jr. said. "I'm glad he got drafted. It's a badge of honor, really, to be considered. That was the easy part, like I tell him. The hard part is to get the work in and see if you can't be considered higher."

Jose Cruz, the patriarch of the family, would love for his grandson to follow in his footsteps and play for the Astros, but he knows the value of an education, too.

"I think he's going to get better," he said. "He's improving. He's looking better and better every year. I think he's going to be fine. I think it would be good for him to go to college and get an education, and if he does good, he'll get drafted."

Cruz Jr. said Trei is just coming into his own.

"He hasn't filled out yet in his body," he said. "Definitely, he's very gifted. I think he's a high IQ baseball player, but not where he needs to be. I think he'll get some more power in the next couple of years, and we'll see what happens."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.