RobertAnthony Cruz’s name wasn’t called during the Major League Baseball draft earlier this week—which turned out to be a pretty great thing. Seconds after the Washington Nationals took their last pick, the infielder got a call from Mark Baca, the Nats’ assistant director for amateur scouting, offering him a surprise free agent contract. Cruz went to his dad’s car shop to share the news in person, while his mom recorded on her phone. The heartfelt TikTok video that resulted has gone very (very) viral, racking up more than 15 million views in the past two days.
On Friday, Washingtonian got in touch with Cruz through direct messages on Instagram. He says he’s never been to DC, but reports: “The fans so far have been wonderful, and I’m hoping I can make the move soon.” He begins training in Florida this Sunday in the Gulf Coast League.
Here are five other things to know about Washington’s newest star.
- Baseball wasn’t Cruz’s first sport. Growing up, he did gymnastics. Cruz told Washingtonian that he only switched to baseball after the boys’ gymnastics team was cut when he was nine.
- Cruz was home-schooled until his junior year of high school. “The only reason I went to high school was for baseball!” he said via direct message.
- Cruz, a junior at Biola University in Southern California, can read and write basic Biblical Hebrew. (Biola stands for the Bible Institute of Los Angeles.) Now that he’s signed, he will put earning his degree in Christian ministries on hold.
- Cruz is multi-talented. Not only is he a rising baseball star, but he’s a photographer, who started his own photo business when he was 15. He’s shot over 15 weddings. Check out some of his photos here.
- Cruz and his parents celebrated his Nats contract at Del Taco. (While we don’t have any Del Tacos in Washington, we do have many other options that he might want to try.)
My Dad is a gem. Hardest worker I know. My name wasn’t called in the draft, but I got a surprise free agent contract.