Injury to Elly De La Cruz could open the door for this Reds prospect

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Matt McLain
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Matt McLain / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

In case you missed it, two of the Cincinnati Reds top prospects will actually begin the season on the Injured List. Elly De La Cruz and Christian Encarnacion-Strand both suffered minor injuries over the second-half of spring training.

De La Cruz is dealing with a hamstring injury and Encarnacion-Strand is sidelined with a back issue. Both prospects are expected to recover before the end of April and should begin their 2023 seasons at Triple-A Louisville.

While there doesn't seem to be very much competition for Encarnacion-Strand at the moment, the Reds have plenty of shortstops in their farm system. Who could benefit the most from De La Cruz's early-season absence?

Injury to Elly De La Cruz could open the door for Reds SS prospect Matt McLain.

While Christian Encarnacion-Strand had a spring to remember during his time in Goodyear, Matt McLain was no slouch in his own right. The former first-round pick played very well in Cactus League games this spring.

Having played in just five games last spring, McLain was able to find the field in 13 exhibition contests this year while slashing .333/.556/.611. This, after posting an OPS of .816 at Double-A Chattanooga in just his first season of professional baseball, could be a springboard for McLain's 2023 campaign.

Having logged just 134 games in the minors, McLain still has some work left to do before beginning his major league career. But with Elly De La Cruz sidelined with a hamstring strain to begin the 2023 season, McLain will likely get reps at shortstop during his time at Triple-A Louisville.

There's a argument to be made for which shortstop prospect is more major league-ready. De La Cruz has just 181 starts stateside, but his play at both High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga were eye-opening last season.

Matt McLain will likely receive reps at both shortstop and second base once he arrives in Louisville next month. The 23-year-old's play early on could dictate whether he receives a call-up before De La Cruz.

Next. 5 Reds prospects to watch at Double-A Chattanooga. dark