Dominican shortstop Elly de la Cruz is one of the most anticipated prospects in all of baseball, and the wait for Reds fans to see him play in the majors is over.
De la Cruz is already here.
The 21-year-old de la Cruz, considered Cincinnati’s No. 1 prospect and No. 4 overall by MLB Pipeline, was called up Tuesday from Triple-A Louisville and added to the Reds’ lineup for the I play against the Dodgers as a third baseman and batting fourth.
“I knew this day was going to come,” De la Cruz declared. “It didn’t mean I was going to worry about it or anything like that. I was just enjoying my moment, playing like it was my last day, just enjoying the moment while I was in Louisville.”
De la Cruz is hitting .297/.398/.633 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs in 38 games with Louisville this year. His season began on April 20, after the youngster spent time on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring suffered during his early training camp with Cincinnati’s big team.
Reds manager David Bell didn’t hesitate to put De La Cruz in the fourth spot in his lineup right away.
“We know what kind of player Elly is. He hits well and we think he fits in there,” Bell commented. “Obviously, we’re comfortable with Elly’s abilities. We think he’s up for it.”
Since his return from injury, De la Cruz has routinely wowed Louisville with his five-tool talent. This year he has hit the hardest hit in all of professional baseball, with a Statcast-recorded exit velocity of 118.8 miles per hour. In total, in that same game, he had three connections of more than 116 mph.
On June 4, De La Cruz hit a 117.3 mph double.
In early May, while playing third base, De La Cruz hit a 99.2 mph throw to first base, the fastest recorded for that time in Triple-A or the Major Leagues.
On June 2, De La Cruz’s 10.97-second sprint from home plate to third base tied him for the fastest home-to-third run on record at the Triple-A or Major League level in 2023.
De la Cruz is likely to play mostly shortstop for the Reds, but could also play third base. Another prospect, Matt McLain, has been playing shortstop with Cincinnati since he was called up on May 15. McLain often played second base at Louisville when De la Cruz was at short stop. If the Reds operate in a similar fashion, they could move second baseman Jonathan India to hot corner. India has been fielding ground balls lately at third during practice.
In spring camp, De la Cruz already received the number 44, which previously belonged to Eric Davis, his great mentor on the Reds.
There hasn’t been this much hype for a position player moving up to the Reds since outfielder Jay Bruce was called up on May 27, 2008. Bruce, then 21–like De La Cruz–was ranked No. 1 prospect in the entire game at the time of his promotion. He came through with a bang in his first week, hitting .577 with three home runs in his first seven major league games.
Now, De La Cruz will be able to test his skills at the highest level of the game and his appearances are expected to be a must-see in Cincinnati…and beyond the Queen City.