Just because it’s November and the Cincinnati Reds haven’t played a game in nearly a month doesn’t mean that there can’t be good news coming out of the organization. On Monday night, just after trick-or-treating ended here in Cincinnati, the Tigres del Licey kicked off their game against Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League (LIDOM). Within that game Elly De La Cruz did more Elly De La Cruz things.
In his first at-bat of the game he crushed a triple to center field. But it wasn’t just a normal triple. The shortstop took the relay throw and threw it away, giving Elly De La Cruz the opportunity to break for the plate and just slide in head first to beat the tag.
— Tigres del Licey (@TigresdelLicey) November 1, 2022
Before the night was over for the Cincinnati Reds top prospect he had picked up two singles and a walk to go along with his triple. Through 12 games for Licey he’s hitting .405/.490/.667 with four doubles, two triples, a home run, 13 runs scored, 12 runs batted in, five stolen bases, eight walks, and 11 strikeouts in his 51 plate appearances.
After splitting his season in High-A Dayton with the Dragons and Double-A Chattanooga with the Lookouts where he won the Reds minor league player of the year after hitting .304/.359/.586 with 31 doubles, nine triples 28 home runs, and 47 stolen bases, his performance in the Dominican Winter League is both surprising and not surprising at the same time.
His strikeout-to-walk ratio has been quite strong so far in winter ball, walking at a very high rate as well as cutting down on his strikeouts. The sample size is small, of course, but it’s encouraging. He’s just 20-years-old, missed a season in his development due to the cancellation of the minor league season in 2020, and has skyrocketed through the farm system ever since. He’s relatively inexperienced, but he’s been showing improvements at every level he’s been moved to.
Cincinnati will need to add him to the 40-man roster in a few weeks to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. It’s one of the easiest decisions the team will have to make in very long time. That will get Elly De La Cruz to spring training with the big league club. If he continues to perform like he has in 2022 across the three levels he played at the question will become how can the team keep him off of the big league roster when they head north to Cincinnati for the regular season? That’s still a ways away, but it’s something worth thinking about at this point, too.