This will be an unpopular opinion, but there's no reason for the Cincinnati Reds to rush highly-touted prospect Elly De La Cruz to the major leagues. In fact, after only playing 47 games at Double-A in 2022, the shortstop should begin the 2023 in Chattanooga.
De La Cruz is a phenomenal talent. At 20 years of age, De La Cruz hit .304/.359/.586 in 120 games across both High-A and Double-A this season. The infielder slugged 28 home runs and totaled 68 extra-base hits.
So why in the world, you may be asking, should the Reds keep De La Cruz at Double-A to begin next season? Finding a young, highly-regarded prospect who's excelled once making the leap to the big leagues while playing in Cincinnati's farm system has been hard to come by recently. Jonathan India may be the lone exception, but he spent three years at the University of Florida.
Reds prospect Elly De La Cruz should begin the 2023 season at Double-A.
Now, would it be the worst thing in the world if the Cincinnati Reds chose to assign Elly De La Cruz to begin the 2023 season at Triple-A Louisville? Absolutely not. The infielder is highly skilled and would eventually adapt very well to playing at the upper-level of the minor leagues.
But the Reds have no need to rush De La Cruz up the minor league ladder. Let's not forget that he just really began playing professional baseball state-side back in 2021. Outside of 43 games in the Dominican Summer League back in 2019, all of De La Cruz's success has come since last season.
Some fans will marvel at De La Cruz's .301 batting average and 36 home runs over the last two seasons in the minor leagues. When a prospect has posted an OPS of .921 and wRC+ of 142 over the last two seasons, it's sure to get the attention of scouts and fans, but don't overlook the 30.6% strikeout-rate and 6.9% walk-rate.
While Reds fans are, and should, be excited about a potential star in the making, there's no reason to rush Elly De La Cruz. Next year's Cincinnati squad is unlikely to be competitive, so it would be rather foolish to waste a year of team control during a season that will likely result in below-.500 win/ loss record.