Elly De La Cruz

From BR Bullpen

Elly Antonio De La Cruz

  • Bats Both, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 5", Weight 200 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Infielder Elly De La Cruz was signed by the Cincinnati Reds as an international amateur free agent on July 2, 2018. He began his professional career in 2019 with the DSL Reds, hitting .285 in 43 games. After being forced to sit out the 2020 season when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the minor leagues, he returned to action in 2021, splitting his time between the ACL Reds and Daytona Tortugas of the Low-A Southeast (as the once and future Florida State League was called that season). He did quite well, batting .296/.336/.539 in 61 games, with 18 doubles, 9 triples and 8 homers.

Elly had a breakout season in 2022 when he was named the top prospect in the Midwest League. Not that he stayed there very long, as after 73 games of hitting .303 and slugging .609 for the Dayton Dragons, he was promoted to the Chattanooga Lookouts of the AA Southern League. His slash line for the season was .304/.359/.586 in 102 games, with 31 doubles, 9 triples and 28 homers. He also scored 87 runs, drove in 86, and stole 47 bases while being caught just 6 times. He was named to the National League for the 2022 Futures Game, was a Midwest League post-season All-Star, and a Reds organization All-Star. To cap it all, he was named the Reds' Minor League Player of the Year. All that at just 20! After the season, he played for the Tigres del Licey in the Dominican League, contributing to their record 23rd league title by batting .286 in 24 games against much older competition.

He started the 2023 season with the Louisville Bats of the AAA International League, where he hit .298 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in 38 games. He made his much anticipated major league debut on June 6th, starting at the third base and batting clean-up for the Reds against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went 1 for 3 with a double and two walks in a 9-8 win. In his second game on June 7th, he crushed a 458-foot home run which left his bat at 114.8mph - the hardest-hit ball by a Reds player since 2019. He followed that by hitting a triple, going from home to third base in 10.83 seconds - the fastest time recorded that season. His incredible physical tools reminded observers of Oneil Cruz the year before and made Elly the talk of baseball. He continued to impress over the next few weeks, helping the Reds to climb into first place in the NL Central on the back of a twelve-game winning streak. In the 12th win on June 23rd, he became the first Reds player since Eric Davis way back in 1989 to hit for the cycle, accomplishing the feat in an 11-10 win over the Atlanta Braves. And of course, Elly was wearing uniform number 44, in homage to Davis, now an executive with the team, who had been a mentor to the young prodigy. He started off with a double off the wall against fellow rookie AJ Smith-Shawver in the 2nd then hit a two-run homer the following inning. He then hit an RBI single off Collin McHugh in the 5th and recorded the toughest hit, the triple, in the 6th inning against Ben Heller. He was the fifth-youngest player in history to hit for the cycle, and did it in the third fewest career games, 15, trailing only Cliff Heathcote and Gary Ward who had needed 6 and 14 games respectively. He pulled off another great feat on July 8th when he stole second base, third base and home in the span of just three pitches in the 7th inning of an 8-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers - just after driving in the go-ahead run with a single. He finished the season at .235 in 98 games with 13 homers, 67 runs, 44 RBIs and 35 steals. But for all the spectacular feats, he was still lacking some consistency, as his OPS+ was just 89, the result of a poor walk rate (just 35 against 144 strikeouts). Defensively, he split his time between shortstop and third base.

He started the 2024 season red hot as in April, he hit 8 homers and stole 18 bases while batting .279 in 30 games. He was now a full-time shortstop and his power/speed numbers, if extended over a full season, would make him the charter member of the unheard of 40/90 club! Not only that, but the rest of his numbers were good too, as witnessed by an OPS+ of 171. In particular, he had already drawn 17 walks - half of the previous season's total. On May 16th, he not only had a four-hit game against the os Angeles Dodgers, but also drew a walk, stole four bases and scored three times to lead the Reds to a 7-2 win. That gave him 30 steals for the season, as his pace was now 110 over a full year. He was the first Reds player to stela four bases in a game since another speedster, Billy Hamilton had done it in 2016

Further Reading[edit]

  • David Adler: "New phenom hits like Judge, runs like Trea, throws like no other", mlb.com, June 8, 2023. [1]
  • John Fay: "Elly amazes with first HR, triple: 'It's freaky'", mlb.com, June 7, 2023. [2]
  • Thomas Harrigan: "A 40-90 season?! This budding superstar is setting a historic pace", mlb.com, May 2, 2024. [3]
  • Henry Palattella: "Who is Elly De La Cruz?", mlb.com, June 6, 2023. [4]
  • Mike Petriello: "The two sides to Elly De La Cruz, and how to make sense of them", mlb.com, May 22, 2024. [5]
  • Brendan Samson: "Elly adds 432 ft. walk-off homer to growing resume", mlb.com, May 31, 2023. [6]
  • Mark Sheldon: "More to come' as De La Cruz shows off tools in debut", mlb.com, June 7, 2023. [7]
  • Mark Sheldon: "With blazing fast triple, Elly hits for Cincy’s first cycle since ‘89", mlb.com, June 24, 2023. [8]
  • Mark Sheldon: "Elly runs LA marathon in 4-steal, 4-hit night: Dodgers 'caught up at times admiring the talent' after Reds' series-opening win", mlb.com, May 17, 2024. [9]
  • Mark Sheldon: "Anniversary bash: Elly hammers HR 1 year after making MLB debut", mlb.com, June 6, 2024. [10]

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