There’s nothing Elly De La Cruz can do to prevent Reds top prospect from stealing his job

It's hard to see Elly De La Cruz being the Reds starting shortstop in 2025.

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Edwin Arroyo throws to first base
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Edwin Arroyo throws to first base / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

Throughout the entire offseason, a loud minority of Cincinnati Reds fans were clamoring for the team to move Elly De La Cruz off the shortstop position and send him to the outfield. It wasn't an outlandish idea, and one that was driven by the desire to see the Reds retain Jonathan India as the team's second baseman rather than trade him.

It would also allow De La Cruz's amazing tools to be on full display. Last year's rookie proved that he was one of the fastest players in the sport, and can cover a lot of ground on the base paths and in field. De La Cruz also has a cannon for a right arm, that would profile very well in either center or right field.

But Reds manager David Bell has already made the proclamation ahead of the upcoming season that De La Cruz will be Cincinnati's everyday shortstop. That may be true for the 2024 campaign, but Edwin Arroyo, a non-roster invitee this spring, may have something to say about that in 2025.

There’s nothing Elly De La Cruz can do to prevent Reds prospect, Edwin Arroyo, from stealing his job

Edwin Arroyo may be the most popular name among Reds fans through the first week of spring training. The 20-year-old shortstop prospect has dazzled the Cincinnati fanbase with his slick fielding. Arroyo logged a double during Tuesday's Cactus League game against the Chicago Cubs and is 3-for-6 so far this spring.

The Reds acquired Arroyo during the 2022 trade with the Seattle Mariners that send Luis Castillo to the Emerald City. In exchange, the Reds received Arroyo, Noelvi Marte, Levi Stoudt, and Andrew Moore. Marte made his major league debut last season and is seen as a key piece of the roster heading into 2024. Reds fans are hopeful to see Arroyo follow suit by the end of the upcoming season and into 2025.

Arroyo is ranked among the Top 100 prospects in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline. Arroyo's glove is currently ahead of his bat, but the youngster showed flashes in the batters' box during his stint in the minor leagues last season. Arroyo, like De La Cruz, is a switch-hitter and posted a .757 OPS while splitting time between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga last season.

Edwin Arroyo is a more polished defender than Elly De La Cruz

This was always going to be a concern for the Reds fanbase. At one point, the Cincinnati farm system was overflowing with shortstops. Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, and Noelvi Marte all seem to have found a defensive home ahead of the 2024 season. But with Edwin Arroyo making his presence known, the Reds will have no choice to eventually find a spot to plug in their top infield prospect.

None of this is to suggest that De La Cruz is a bad defender or that he can't play shortstop. In fact, De La Cruz can make plays at shortstop that few others can even think about. However, he did have over a dozen miscues at the position during his rookie season.

In the end, there's nothing Elly De La Cruz can do to ward off the upcoming debate that will likely result in a position change for the 22-year-old. If Edwin Arroyo finds his swing in 2024, he'll be knocking on the big league door later this season or in 2025. Something's got to give, and it'll likely see De La Cruz in right field on Opening Day in 2025