Fort Wayne TinCaps third baseman Carlos Belen and South Bend Cubs pitcher Oscar De La Cruz were named the Midwest League Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, the league announced Monday. The award is selected by MiLB.com’s staff.
Belen, a 20-year old from the Dominican Republic, hit .400 (10-for-25) over the past week with three home runs, six RBIs and a trio of multi-hit games. Belen ranks tied for sixth in all of Single-A (100 teams) with 19 total bases over the stretch.
“It feels good to be honored,” Belen said. “But I’m just focused on continuing to get better.”
Belen leads the TinCaps in doubles (22), triples (7) and extra-base hits (39) this season.
“Any time one of your players gets an award, there’s a sense of pride,” TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras said. “With Carlos, as a young player, he’s had his highs and lows, but it’s great to see how he’s picked himself up from those struggles that you’re going to have in this game. Right now we just hope he can keep riding the wave as long as it lasts.”
On Monday against Lansing, Belen’s two-run home run gave the TinCaps a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning. The next day against the Lugnuts, Belen started a late TinCaps rally with an eighth-inning solo shot, as Fort Wayne forced extra innings. At home on Friday against Bowling Green, Belen sparked the TinCaps’ offensive outburst with a two-run blast in the second inning.
The Padres signed the 6-foot, 213-pound third baseman out of Santo Domingo in the Dominican in July 2012.
Belen is the third TinCap to be named Midwest League Player of the Week in 2016. Catcher Austin Allen (April 7-17) and Jhonatan Peña (June 23-26) also have received the distinction.
De La Cruz was tabbed as the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week for August 8 – 14. This is De La Cruz’s first award in 2016 and South Bend’s fourth league honor this season.
De La Cruz picked up his first Midwest League win on August 11 after going five innings without giving up a hit, walking one and striking out six.
In 2015, De La Cruz earned the Northwest League’s Pitcher of the Week honors for August 24 – 30 after striking out 13 batters in seven innings. He also earned the Chicago Cubs organizational Pitcher of the Month honors for August that year.
The 21-year-old right-hander is in his fourth season with the Cubs organization after being signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2012.