Louisville Bats lineup hinted at a sign of things to come for the Reds infield alignment

Cincinnati Reds non-roster invitee infielder Matt McLain
Cincinnati Reds non-roster invitee infielder Matt McLain / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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For the first time since Elly De La Cruz began his 2023 season with Triple-A Louisville, the Cincinnati Reds top prospect was manning third base.

Playing third base is nothing new for De La Cruz, as he played 24 games at the hot corner last season in the minor leagues. In fact, there are some scouts who believe, that at 6-foot-5, De La Cruz is more natural fit at third base.

The Reds are likely just seeing how things work themselves in the minor leagues, but the path to get both De La Cruz and Matt McLain to the big leagues is much simpler if the 21-year-old slides a few steps to his right.

Louisville Bats lineup hinted at a sign of things to come for the Reds infield alignment.

With Elly De La Cruz playing third base for the Louisville Bats on Friday night, it allowed Matt McLain to shift over to shortstop. McLain had been playing second base after De La Cruz returned to the Louisville lineup following a hamstring injury.

Positional flexibility is good for both De La Cruz and McLain, and it's something we've seen from the big league club this year as well. Spencer Steer has played both first and third base, Nick Senzel has played in the outfield and manned the hot corner, and Tyler Stephenson has seen time behind the plate, at first base, and as the team's DH.

For those wanting to see the Cincinnati Reds just move Jonathan India to the outfield or make the former Rookie of the Year the club's permanent designated hitter; don't hold your breath. While an argument can certainly be made that India plays below-average defense according to a variety of metrics, the 26-year-old is the team leader.

That's a role that India has taken on this season. You don't just have, arguably, your best sit in the dugout on a routine basis until his turn in the batting around comes around. Some players are built to just swing the bat. Jonathan India is not one of those players.

Allowing Elly De La Cruz to get reps at third base while playing Matt McLain at shortstop is likely the best way to get both players to the major leagues more quickly. While both Jose Barrero and Nick Senzel have played well of late, you have to wonder if their recent success is sustainable.

Over the long haul, an infield of De La Cruz, McLain, India, and Tyler Stephenson/ Christian Encarnacion-Strand looks pretty good, doesn't it?

Next. 3 Reds prospects who'll be called up by the All-Star break. dark