Elly De La Cruz put together a season for the ages in 2022 while in the minor leagues. In 120 games between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga he hit .304/.359/.586 with 31 doubles, 9 triples, 28 home runs, and 47 stolen bases. In September of 2021 the Tigres del Licey selected the shortstop in the 3rd round of the Dominican Winter League draft. On opening night in the league this year that draft pick paid off in a big way.

The 20-year-old top prospect for the Cincinnati Reds was in the starting lineup and playing second base. Perhaps his age and inexperience in the winter league led to his being placed 9th in the order. After what he did on Saturday night he might be moving up in the order. De La Cruz started the day off in the 2nd inning with a bases loaded double that scored two runs that put Licey on top. Three innings later he would walk on four pitches. In the 7th inning he would single into right field.

Batting 9th didn’t lead to many trips to the plate, but the game was tied up at 2-2 and headed into extra innings. De La Cruz led off the 10th inning with a walk, but he would be stranded on third base. In the 11th inning he would fly out to center field as he recorded his first out of the game. The game remained tied up at 2-2 and in the 14th inning the infielder came back to the plate with one out in the inning and singled up the middle and then stole second base to start a rally. He would score on the next play to give Licey the lead and they just kept pouring it on. De La Cruz would come back around to the plate later in the inning and tripled in two more runs to put the Tigres up 10-2.

When the game ended Elly De La Cruz had gone 4-5 with 2 walks, a double, a triple, 2 stolen bases, and he drove in four runs. That’s a pretty solid debut in the top winter league in the world.

Aristides Aquino also plays for Licey. He started the game in left field and was hitting cleanup. He would finish the game 1-5 with a walk, RBI, and 2 runs scored.

49 Responses

    • Jim Walker

      Or the Reds might make it worth his while to drop out to avoid possible injury if he keeps this up 😉

      • Melvin

        Yeah. We wouldn’t want that. 🙂

      • 2020ball

        I realize @Jim’s comment was mostly in jest, but shutting guys down for injuries they dont have is something I read a lot here and I think its silly. Let the player play, especially a prospect. I’m sure he wants to.

  1. Rednat

    the Mariner’s Astro’s game was hard to watch. hopefully, it propels the league to make more changes to promote offense. I like the idea of moving the mound back, eliminating certain pitches. 18 inning 1-0 games are just too much, even for guy that likes good pitching duels.

    • Bill

      I can’t imagine banning pitches. Maybe alter the mound if you want more offense

      • Bob Purkey

        Banning the shift. Max 2 pick off attempts should be plenty to create offense

      • Doug Gray

        Bob – banning the shift isn’t going to do a whole lot towards adding offense. It’ll just make people feel better.

      • JayTheRed

        I disagree with you Doug. I think we are going to see on average at least a 10M-point increase in averages league wide just by eliminating the shift.

        Maybe more needs to be done still to help the hitters make better contact overall.

      • Doug Gray

        Every study that’s been done on it say it’ll probably boost average by like 3-5 points across the league. We’ll see.

        But the problem is making contact and there really isn’t an “easy” answer for that. Pitchers today are witches. Short of moving the mound back or eliminating the slide as a pitch you’re allowed to throw, contact isn’t getting “fixed”. The days of simply throwing the bat at the ball and it working ended 30 years ago when astroturf left the game and weakly hit grounders could bounce easily through infields.

    • eddiek957

      Maybe they should consider using the ghost runner in the playoffs

    • Droslovinia

      And it begins. Not satisfied with changing the rules so batters don’t have to learn to hit to opposite fields, we’re now talking about not letting pitchers pitch. Is anyone in Seattle complaining about “hitters” who swing for the fences, when they have 2 strikes and a winning run on base? But let’s keep reinforcing that behavior.

    • LDS

      Maybe we should just have the players hit off a tee. Except for Houston/Seattle, there was plenty of offense. Hitters need to adjust. Organizations need to work on hitter development.

      • JayTheRed

        I do agree that hitters need to work on actual hitting

  2. David

    Elly De La Cruz

    He’s a pretty amazing young player. Whatever he does in Winter Ball, is just a foretaste of things to come.
    I would also wonder how he played at 2nd. He wants to play SS in the majors, and doesn’t want to switch positions.

  3. Old-school

    Any word on how Marte and McLain are looking at 3b and SS respectively in the AFL? Neither are hitting much.
    McClain turns 24 next August and played all of 2022 at AA so seemingly he would start in AAA next year.
    EDLC turns 21 in January. He only played 47 games in AA in 2022. Does he start at AA or AAA?
    Marte played all of his season acts high A in 2022 and turned 21 this weekend.

    I dont think its a sure thing Barrero starts the year in Cincy.

    Could we see Marte at 3b and EDLC starting 2023 at AA with Barrero at SS and McLain at 2b in AAA with McLain getting looks at SS/3b as well?

    Krall said the infield defense was unacceptable so it would make sense the Reds would start to narrow down position play at the high minors with Marte/EDLC/McLain in 2023 if they are key parts of the future infield in 2024.

    • David

      McClain had an interview about that; talking about playing next to Marte, and learning from him.
      I am not terribly impressed by McClain, for being a #1 draft choice. I don’t know if he can cut it at the ML level. He hit for a rather low average in AA. McClain may be at AAA this season, but he may, in fact, have a low ceiling as a player. Maybe lower than Nick Senzel, who was also a #1 draft choice.

      EDLC should be at AAA this season. He is really almost ready for the Majors. He hits the opposite way for power, hits the ball where it is pitched. He is apparently a very bright young man, very smart. He has a good understanding of what he is doing at the plate.
      His fielding percentage at Short stop doesn’t look great, but that could improve.
      He would be tall for a short stop, but maybe that’s where he stays.

    • 2020ball

      I’d probably have McClain at AA as a SS and EDLC at AAA as a SS. Marte at third and spelling whomever’s team he’s on while also playing 3B. I realize age is a factor but performance should be the ultimate deciding factor. I’d prefer to see McClain figure out AA before moving to AAA. EDLC looks like he needs the extra challenge.

  4. Joey Red

    The Padres beat the Dodgers and will be playing the Phillies in the NLCS. Two teams who actually spent money and made some trades which is how you win. Meanwhile here the conversation is about a minor leaguer who may or may not develop into a successful major league player. The Reds don’t exactly have a great track record in player development. And if he does develop and becomes successful he will be traded away in another rebuilding fire sale. Good luck to the Padres who defeated the National League version of the Evil Empire.

    • Votto4life

      Think about all the trades, free agents and all the high end contracts the Padres have taken on, not to mention the players they developed, just to make it to the NLCS.

      It’s hard to envision the current Reds ownership ever being that aggressive in putting a winning team on the field.

    • LDS

      Now if only Cleveland can finish off the Yankees. The Mets & Dodgers had the highest payroll last season (according to Spotrac) with the Yankees at #3. The Phillies & Padres were at #4 and #5. But lowly Cleveland was way down at 28th, spending more than only Oakland and Baltimore. The Reds were at #22 laying to rest the myth of the small market. If Cleveland can do it, it can be done. The Reds just lack the skill and desire to do so.

  5. LDS

    I’d like to see EDLC open the season ripping AAA and join the Reds by mid-season. The Reds sorely need a player like what EDLC looks like he’s becoming. IMO, he’s the best since Eric Davis, so likely the best in the last 40 years.

    • TR

      EDLC looks like a young player to build around. I’d like to see him in centerfield. The Reds seem to have enough infield prospects.

      • Doug Gray

        So you move the best infield prospect because there are some other infield prospects?

      • Harry Stoner

        Yes, let’s move the Red’s best hitting prospect in ages to CF where he can crash into walls, dislocate shoulders diving after balls and collide with rogue outfielders.

        Then we can roll out the “he’s accident prone” carp again.

      • Jim Walker

        Not saying it makes sense to a lot of us but well…. the Reds (sort of have) done it with Senzel. And they definitely tried to make an instant CF of Barrero at MLB right in the middle of a wild card race in 2021. And India was a 3B until he was a 2B

        If it walks and quacks like a duck, it must be the Reds

      • Doug Gray

        When the Reds moved Senzel they had all-star level players at third and second, so it made sense to at least look at other options for him. Elly De La Cruz can play shortstop and third. The Reds have exactly no one there. Moving him isn’t the same.

      • LDS

        EDLC is currently the best of the Reds’ prospects. Leave him in his natural position and move the other guys. Don’t write Barrero off yet and if the other guys (Marte, Arroyo, et.al,), revisit who moves where when. Can a premier athlete play other positions? Sure. It doesn’t mean that it’s in the best interests of either the team or the player. The Reds spent too much time on that this year, e.g, Steer. My guess is that India is gone in the next couple of years if the prospects develop as expected.

      • Joey Red

        “When the Reds moved Senzel they had all-star level players at third and second..”. The key word being “had”.

      • Doug Gray

        Sure. Had. But it at least made sense because of what was currently happening. Moving Elly De La Cruz to another spot on the field because guys not nearly as good as he is also play shortstop is crazy talk. Move those guys.

      • MBS

        Moving EDLC to the OF is more than they don’t have any outfielders. It’s also an attempt to maximize his tools.

        That being said I really don’t care if the leave EDLC at SS or move him to the OF. Some of our SS’s are going to have to be moved around. I’d let Barrero start at SS to begin 23. Let EDLC play SS and RF in AAA, and let McLain play 2B and RF in AAA. If Barrero works out, EDLC takes over RF, and McLain takes over 2B. If Barrero fails, EDLC is SS, and McLain moves to RF.

      • Doug Gray

        You say you want to maximize the tools of Elly but then want him to play right field when he’s probably the fastest player in the organization? That wastes an elite tool.

      • 2020ball

        EDLC should play SS until theres a good reason not to. Way too much is made about players playing multiple positions. I’ll see guys on here complain about a guy needing to play one position his whole life like they did back in the good old days, then praise a guy like Pete Rose who switched between the OF and IF in the same time period. Its ridiculous. Barrero should never be the reason you wanna move EDLC unless he suddenly starts hitting next season.

      • MBS

        @Doug, I said ” That being said I really don’t care if the leave EDLC at SS or move him to the OF.” I was just illustrating the point of moving EDLC is about more than just 1 thing.

        BTW RF wouldn’t be a waste of his speed. RF’s also sprint for balls, and make leaping catches at the wall. If you want to argue CF would utilize his speed more, I would agree with you.

        I’d still stick with my plan as outlined above. I don’t know if defense is EDLC’s calling card, so a more practiced CF might be a better option.

        If Barrero bat comes around and he sticks at SS, McLain takes 2B, and Siani takes CF, that would be the best up the middle defense the Reds could field by 24.

      • greenmtred

        does being a good hitting prospect mean you shouldn’t play centerfield ?guys like mays, mantle, snider, bell, trout and judge might disagree. i’m not saying edlc should move there, but the value of his speed is certainly reduced at shortstop. for that matter, shortstops get hurt, too. center isn’t necessarily the kiss of death.

    • Old-school

      I was all-in for moving EDLC to CF. Except, now that Barrero didnt develop as a credible MLB SS this year, that blows that notion up. In Fact, I would now suspect Nick Krall’s organizational depth chart in his desk now has EDLC as the #1 SS in the entire Reds organization.

      • David

        At this point, I would just leave EDLC alone. Keep him at SS and promote him.
        He is a great athlete, and could do about anything he wanted. But he wants to play SS in the majors.

        Oneil Cruz is the new shortstop with Pittsburgh and he is 6’7″ tall. He had a .952 fielding percentage with the Pirates this year, hit 17 HR in 330 AB’s (BA was only .233). This is another really talented young…TALL shortstop. EDLC mentioned Cruz as another tall SS in an interview late this year.

      • Rob

        This could be depressing if it isn’t already. In reality, our near term (2023) offensive prospects and newcomers are Barerro, Steer, Fraley, Friedl, Sinai, and Fairchild. Based on initial reviews, it may be that none or very few of these guys will provide the horsepower of Wink, Suarez, Nick, etc. And isn’t that management’s master strategy? Not that all these youngsters will rise to be par replacements for Nick, Geno, Wink, et al, but at least 30-40% of them will become valued, productive major leaguers. Right? Isn’t that our game plan? The question then is “When are final grades due for the 2023 batch? We have already had one year of AAA tryouts. I want to believe that we are not going to spend half of 2023 with the same anemic results of August and September 2022 continuing to hope that something good is going to happen when there are no indicators such is going to happen.

  6. JayTheRed

    Who knows maybe the fact that he is tall will let him catch some balls that go over other SS heads.

    • Mark Moore

      But, but, but … “small market franchise” … 😮

    • David

      Not clearly discussed in the article about the Guardians, was

      1) Terry Francona, who is a very good field manager
      2) The team pitching

      They don’t swing for the fences, play sound baseball, and they don’t get blown out of games. Solid rotation, solid bullpen.
      A lot of the guys were on an AA championship team last season. They went from AA to the majors and are competing very well.

      What good is Aaron Judge, hitting 62 HR in the regular season, if he can’t make contact…at all? I watched one game, and he got a steady diet of curve balls, and swung through all of them.

      Francona manages with the talent that he has on the field. He has not tried to mold the talent into a team they are not.

      • Old Big Ed

        I agree.

        I always thought that the Reds as a lower-revenue team made a generational mistake in building GABP as a home run haven. They would have been better advised to make it neutral or pitcher-friendly, like Cleveland or Tampa.

        A bigger park gives every pitcher a fighting chance, even those like the Reds or any low-revenue team have to use as fifth starters, etc. In a bigger park, a team can use speed and defense, both of which are available at reasonable rates, and good pitching to keep games close. When the opposing team is spending more on its lineup that the Reds are, cheap home runs tend to help the opponent more than the Reds.

        I watched scores of games at Fenway Park in my college years, when Fenway had not yet been overbuilt. One thing I learned was that power was wasted at Fenway. Freddie Patek of the Angels, who had 41 career homers in 6247 PAs, hit 3 homers in a game there in 1980, plus a double off the Wall. (Not unlike Scooter Gennett, except that Patek was 5’5″ and 148 pounds.)

        Fenway really played to the strength of line-drive hitters and on-base guys. For RH hitters, 400-foot home runs were unnecessary, and not worth the extra strikeouts. I think GABP has some similarities; the Reds need to get guys on base and then turn loose the line-drive hitters to ping the ball around the park. Hitting the ball hard is more important at GABP than hitting the ball far.

        Unless you are Ian Happ, in which case you do both.

      • Melvin

        GABP opened with arguably the worst GM the Reds have ever had. Jim Bowden visualized Griffey and Dunn both hitting 50+HR. The team had virtually no SP or at least not much. We all know how that worked out for winning.