Cruz was acquired by the Rangers from the Milwaukee Brewers on July 28, 2006 along with slugging outfielder Carlos Lee in exchange for Laynce Nix, Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero and minor league pitcher Julian Cordero. He had spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons in the Brewers organization with the Double-A Huntsville Stars, Triple-A Nashville Sounds and briefly in September of 2005, the major league Brewers.
Before joining the Brewers organization, Cruz played in the Oakland Athletics system. The Brewers acquired him from Oakland along with pitcher Justin Lehr in exchange for infielder Keith Ginter on December 16, 2004. He was initially signed as a free agent by the New York Mets, who traded him to Oakland for Jorge Velandia on August 30, 2000, after three years in the Dominican Summer League.
In spring training for the 2007 season, Cruz got off to a rough start, but finished strong by hitting three home runs in the final week, including a walk-off home run in the final game of spring training.