Add assistant hitting coach to the list of positions the Pirates will need to fill this offseason.
Jacob Cruz is heading to Milwaukee to take the same position with the Brewers. Cruz broke the news himself when he changed his Twitter bio. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com was the first to notice the change Tuesday.
Cruz just completed his first season as the Pirates' assistant hitting coach. He was formerly the Cubs' minor league hitting coordinator and spent time as a hitting coach in the Cubs and Diamondbacks farm systems. He played nine years in the majors and bounced around international leagues for several years.
Cruz and first year hitting coach Rick Eckstein were considered the highlights to what was a disappointing season for the Pirates coaching staff. While the team was roughly middle-of-the-pack in offense across the league, it was the individual successes that were the best indication the two had an effect. Rookies Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman broke onto the scene, Starling Marte enjoyed the best season of his career and Josh Bell finally reached his potential and became an All-Star.
Eckstein was part of the interview process when the Pirates were searching for an assistant hitting coach last year, which was beneficial since the two worked closely together all season.
Cruz will take over for Jason Lane, who is moving from the team's assistant hitting coach to their first base coach. As McCalvy notes, Cruz speaks Spanish, which will be helpful after the departure of their former first base coach, Carlos Subero.