It didn't take long for Elly De La Cruz to make an impact. Yes, I know it's just a Cactus League game. Yes, I know that he's at least one, if not two years away from getting called up to the major leagues. But the Cincinnati Reds top infield prospect put a charge into a Brad Boxberger pitch last night and sent the fans into a frenzy.
In the bottom of the eighth inning with the score knotted at 8 runs apiece, the bases juiced, and two outs, De La Cruz jumped on the first pitch he saw and rocketed the ball over the wall and onto the berm in center field at Goodyear Ballpark.
Elly De La Cruz gave Reds fans a glimpse into the future.
No one, perhaps in the the entire game of baseball, saw a quicker rise up the ladder than Elly De La Cruz last year. You had to dig really deep in order to find any information on the Cincinnati Reds young shortstop, but now, he's appearing as a Top 100 prospect for nearly every outlet.
De La Cruz is just 20 years old and made his minor league debut last season. The right-handed hitting infielder slashed .269/.305/.477 at Low-A Daytona in 2021 and posted a wRC+ of 106. This was after showing off some impressive stuff at the Reds complex in Arizona.
De La Cruz is a budding star, but let's not get too excited just yet. As I mentioned, he's only 20 years old and he did have a 31.0% strikeout-rate with the Tortugas last season. That, coupled with a 4.8% walk-rate suggests that De La Cruz needs to be a bit more patient at the dish and improve his pitch recognition.
Still, there's a lot to like about De La Cruz's compact swing. The Reds still don't know if they prefer to develop De La Cruz as a shortstop or a third baseman. De La Cruz spent 20 games eclipsing 170 innings at shortstop last season and secured 27 starts at third base where he spent 231.1 innings at the hot corner.
Where Elly De La Cruz ends up defensively may depend a lot on how he develops at the plate. If De La Cruz can unlock that above-average raw power that has scouts salivating, you'll likely see him at third base. If De La Cruz goes hit over power, the Reds will likely slot him at shortstop.
The bottom line is there's a lot to like about this young man, and with a full season in the minor leagues on the horizon, you can be sure that Reds Country will be checking in early and often on one fo the more exciting young prospects in the the team's farm system.