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Rice Baseball Prospect Camp

Rice Basball Camps North Carolina
Reckling Park
Rice University Baseball Stadium
August 2
Registration closes Aug 2nd.
Grades 9-12
9:00 am | Check in 8:00 am
If a refund is requested a camp credit will be given to a future camp

The Rice University Baseball Prospect Showcase is designed to provide players who want to continue their playing careers at the next level with an opportunity to receive instruction as well as be evaluated by the entire Rice coaching staff, and coaches/recruiters from other Texas Colleges in the area.

This event is considered a major part of the recruiting process for the Rice Baseball Program! The format is designed to give the coaches in attendance the best opportunity to evaluate each player and make a determination on where they would fit in their program.

The itinerary will include: 60 yard dash, defensive workout, bull pens and live batting practice on the field.

Event Type: Prospect Camp or Showcase Event

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Prospect Camp Registration
$ 225.00

What to look forward to...

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Coaches & Organizers you might meet...

Rice Baseball
José Cruz Jr.
Bixby Family Head Baseball Coach Read more Read less

One of the cornerstones of Rice’s rise to prominence in college baseball, José Cruz Jr. was named the 22nd head baseball coach at Rice on June 9, 2021. He became the Bixby Family Head Baseball Coach when the position was endowed through a gift by Bob and Betty Bixby in October of 2022.

In his first two seasons, Cruz expanded the Owls’ data-driven approach to player development through cutting-edge technologies while also spearheading efforts to maintain Reckling Park’s status among the elite baseball venues at the college level. The Owls’ home saw the introduction of a synthetic playing surface before the 2023 season and this year will see the installation of a new lighting system.

Cruz’s second season at the helm was highlighted by the breakout seasons of pitcher Parker Smith and shortstop Ben Royo. Smith earned first-team, All-Conference USA honors and an invitation to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team training camp after emerging as the Owls’ Friday night starter. Royo earned C-USA all-freshman honors after slugging 13 homers which matched Cruz’s 1993 total for the third most by a freshman at Rice. After the season, three Owls (Hayden Durke, Matthew Linskey and Justin Long) were selected in the MLB amateur draft, their highest number since 2019.

Cruz returned to the Owls from the Detroit Tigers, where he was in his first season with the club as a coach, focusing on hitting instruction and working with the outfielders under manager A.J. Hinch.

He is the first former Rice player to be named as the Owls head baseball coach since Harold Stockbridge, who lettered from 1946-48 and guided the program from 1949-52.  He joins Efe Ustundag (Men’s Tennis) and Jon Warren (Men’s Track and Cross Country) as former student-athletes who now serve as head coaches at Rice.

Cruz’s association with Rice began in 1992 when he chose to remain home and sign with the Owls after leading Houston’s Bellaire High School to the top ranking in the country in 1992.  The signing of the local standout, whose father, Jose Cruz Sr., remains one of the most popular players in Houston Astros history, was a turning point in legendary coach Wayne Graham’s efforts to attract top talent to Rice.

In his first season, Cruz shared national freshman of the year honors from Collegiate Baseball, and he earned All-Southwest Conference honors after driving in a school-record 59 runs. A year later, he was the consensus conference player of the year and first-team All-America, hitting .401 with 14 home runs and breaking his school mark with 68 RBIs.  Cruz helped propel the Owls to the conference tournament, starting a streak that would last until 2021.

By 1995, Graham’s efforts had built the Owls into a potent force and the team qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in history. Rice eliminated defending national champion LSU at the Tigers’ home field in Baton Rouge before falling to eventual College World Series champion Cal-State Fullerton.

In 1995, his final season at Rice, Cruz hit .377 in 1995 with 16 home runs and 76 RBIs and led the nation with 76 walks. Seattle made him the third overall pick in that year’s MLB Draft.

Less than two years later, on May 31, 1997, he made his major league debut with Seattle but was traded to Toronto at the trade deadline at the end of July. He went on to finish second to Nomar Garciaparra in the 1997 American League Rookie of the Year voting, slamming 26 homers and driving in 68 runs in a combined 104 games between Seattle and Toronto.

He played the next five years with the Blue Jays, twice topping 30 home runs and he became a member of the 30-30 Club in 2001 by slamming 34 homers and stealing 32 bases.  He became a free agent after the 2002 season and signed with San Francisco where he helped lead the Giants to the playoffs, hitting .250 with 20 homers and 68 RBI while winning a Gold Glove after committing only two errors in 360 chances. He led National League outfielders by turning seven double plays and set a San Francisco record for the franchise with 18 outfield assists.

He went on to play five additional seasons with the Rays, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Dodgers and Padres before retiring as a member of the Houston Astros in 2008.  While he was with the Astros, Cruz was reunited with a pair of former Rice teammates (Lance Berkman and Tim Byrdak), the first time three Owls were teammates at the major league level.

Hit .353 with a .476 on-base percentage over five games during the 2006 World Baseball Classic, helping Team Puerto Rico to the second round of play.

He batted .247/.337/.445 over his career, slugging 204 home runs, 252 doubles, and 36 triples, while also stealing 113 bases in 1,388 contests. Among the 181 players that had over 1,000 at-bats during the span of his career (1997-2008), Cruz Jr. stood out as having advanced speed, plate discipline, and fielding skills, ranking 32nd in walk rate (12.1%), 33rd in triples and 46th in stolen bases. Of the 24 players over that span who logged at least 11,000.0 innings in the outfield, he ranked No. 12 with a .986 fielding percentage after committing just 40 errors.

Cruz’s Houston baseball roots run deep.  His father, Jose Cruz, remains one of the most beloved players in Astros history. He retired as the Astros career leader with 1,937 hits in 13 seasons and he currently ranks third behind Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.  He finished third in National League Most Valuable Player voting in 1980 while leading the Astros to their first divisional championship and a memorable playoff series against Philadelphia.  He was twice named an NL All-Star and won a pair of NL Silver Slugger Awards.

His younger brother Enrique followed him to Rice and was the starting second baseman on the Owls’ 2003 College World Series championship squad.  After completing their playing careers, the two brothers returned to Rice to complete the requirements for their diplomas, which they received in 2013.

That same year, José joined the Major League Baseball Players Association’s player services department, where he remained until joining the Tigers’ coaching staff for the 2021 season.

Jose and his wife Sarah have three children, sons Trei and Antonio–who followed in their father’s footsteps to play at Rice–and a daughter, Alisa Loren, who attended SMU.

Trei was a three-year standout for the Owls from 2018-20 before being drafted by the Tigers in the third round of the 2020 MLB Draft. Antonio completed his collegiate career playing for his father in 2022.

Trei became the eighth member of the extended Cruz family to play professional baseball when he made his debut with the West Michigan White Caps in 2021.

Rice Baseball
Parker Bangs
Pitching Coach Read more Read less

Parker Bangs was named the Owls’ pitching coach on June 30, 2022

He joined the Owls after four seasons at Davidson, where his staff led the conference and finished eighth nationally with a 3.86 ERA.  The Wildcats staff was led by senior Blake Hely, who earned A-10 Pitcher of the Year honors after posting a 9-1 record and 2.93 ERA while striking out 93 in 79.1 innings of action. He held conference hitters to a .170 batting average while surrendering a total of seven extra-base hits in 48 innings of work.  Redshirt freshman Ryan Feczko was named the conference’s rookie of the year after going 10-0 in 15 starts along with a 3.21 ERA.

He joined the staff at Davidson after three seasons at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. Bangs led the Blue Hose to program-bests since moving to Division I, including 433 strikeouts, 16 saves, and a 4.32 ERA in 2017. The squad also allowed its fewest runs (321) and earned runs (258) since 2013 as the team recorded a D1-era best 32 wins. Under his guidance, the Blue Hose named two pitchers to the All-Big South squads. In 2016, his staff helped spark Presbyterian’s first-ever appearance in the Big South title game.

Bangs played collegiately at South Carolina from 2008-10 and was a member of the Gamecock’s 2010 College World Series championship team.  In his three years with the Gamecocks, Bangs made 47 appearances on the mound, compiling a 7-5 record and striking out 94 in 74.2 innings. He also appeared in 81 games as a designated hitter and pinch hitter, posting a .301 career clip with 21 doubles, 10 home runs, and 60 RBI.

He was drafted by Kansas City in the 31st round of the 2010 MLB Draft, Bangs made 17 appearances over three minor league seasons before retiring after the 2012 season.

Bangs was the head coach of the Wilmington Sharks in the Coastal Plain League for two summers and spent three seasons as head coach of Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in Columbia, S.C. He also served as the pitching/hitting coach for the Columbia Blowfish of the CPL, and as the hitting coach at Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, S.C.

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