Elly De La Cruz has been named the top prospect in all of baseball by Just Baseball. That’s right – he’s number one. Since last season ended, De La Cruz has been showing up in the top 10 of every publication’s list. This is the first place that has listed him at the very top.

The 2023 season hasn’t gotten underway for Elly De La Cruz at this point. In the middle of March he suffered a hamstring injury and that’s kept him off of the field. Expected to begin in Triple-A with the Louisville Bats, De La Cruz is getting close to joining the club but remains back in Arizona while he continues his rehab.

Cincinnati added De La Cruz to the 40-man roster in November. That came off of a huge season where he was the organizational Triple Crown winner as he hit .304/.359/.586 with 31 doubles, 9 triples, 28 home runs, 86 RBI, and 47 stolen bases while splitting his season between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga.

The shortstop burst onto the scene out of nowhere in 2021 and has just gotten better and better in the time since. There’s plenty of strikeouts in his game – he fanned 158 times in 513 plate appearances last year. But if you watch him play every day you can see the switch hitter make adjustments after seeing a pitcher. It’s likely going to continue to be a process, but with more experience, maturity, and understanding of what he should and shouldn’t swing at his strikeout rate should come down some. It’ll likely always be a higher strikeout total due to his height – he’s going to have a big strikezone unless he decides to take over a Jeff Bagwell stance in the box.

De La Cruz was not the only Reds prospect that made the Top 100 list at Just Baseball. He was, however, the only one to make the Top 60. Noelvi Marte, Cam Collier, and Spencer Steer were all rated in the 60’s, while Edwin Arroyo and Matt McLain both landed in the 90’s.

Spencer Steer is out to a good start in Cincinnati this year. Through the first 11 games of the season he’s hitting .306/.390/.583 with six extra-base hits, five walks, and just seven strikeouts. Cam Collier, the 1st round pick from 2022, is also having a strong start. The 18-year-old has been playing with Daytona and he’s hitting .429/.636/.571 with four walks and two strikeouts in 11 plate appearances.

Noelvi Marte began the season with Double-A Chattanooga. He’s gotten out to a slow start, but picked up his first home run of the year last night – a 402-foot shot. The season is only five games in at this point, but he’s hitting .191/.261/.333 for the Lookouts.

Matt McLain got out to a hot start in the first week of the season, but he’s gone into a slump here in the second week and is 1-22 in his last six games. That’s dropped his line on the season to .184/.311/.395. Edwin Arroyo began the year with Dayton, but he exited their second game of the season and was placed on the injured list with a hip injury.

18 Responses

  1. RedBB

    So many injuries for our top prospects already this year…..Elly, CES, Arroyo, Allen, Petty.

    • DaveCT

      There’s a bunch of significant injuries all over this year, from Edwin Diaz and Jose Altuve down.

      I often wonder if more advanced diagnostics and subsequent caution/treatment are leading to greater reporting of injuries, or if the volume is really increasing.

      If it is increasing, what’s influencing that? Things like longer seasons, year round training? I just don’t know enough myself to really speculate.

      • Doc

        Certainly Altuve (fracture from HBP) and Diaz (ruptured tendon) are not from any advanced diagnostics or caution abundance. CES with an abnormal lumbar disk, whether bulging or herniated, should be a straight-forward diagnosis with an MRI and a good neuro exam, not necessarily in that order.

        Many of the others, like EDLC, with sprains and strains probably have a higher mix of caution.

        What I have wondered about for a long time is flexibility in a game where strength and power are now paramount. Seems to me that stronger, tighter muscles exert more force on fixed attachment points which cannot really be strengthened. But that all assumes that injuries are really up. Big contracts make big incentives for teams to fix players, whereas in the past eras, they just disappeared.

  2. LDS

    Need to get him and CES playing soon. Louisville isn’t doing well with rehabbing ML’ers. When was the last time the Reds had the #1 prospect in baseball?

    • Gordon

      Jay Bruce was probably the last one.

      • LDS

        That’s what I was thinking too. That’s been a while. Hopefully, EDLC will exceed Bruce’s results.

      • JayTheRed

        @LDS at this point I would be happy with another Jay Bruce on this team. Our outfield could use that production.

  3. AMDG

    EDLC has been a meteoric riser (which is something of an oxymoron, since meteors fall), but I have to wonder how long he can continue to carry that 31% K rate from each of the past 2 seasons before it catches up with him?

    • ryan

      Dave Kingman and Adam Dunn had pretty good careers

    • David

      EDLC just turned 21 last January. He has been playing all kinds of amateur baseball since he was 11 or 12, and has played a lot of shortstop. He had a big growth spurt about 3 years ago, reaching his present height of 6’5″. I think he is still gettting used to playing in his grown-up body.
      He is so quick and has such great bat speed (reminiscent of Eric Davis), that I think he thinks he can reach everything. He will indeed have to develop more strike zone discipline, and learn to work the count a little more… But he is a fantastic talent. In another list, he is 10th, and the catcher in AAA for the Mets is #1.
      I think it is all a bit of propaganda, but barring injury, I think EDLC will be a great player. The question is does he play SS where he wants to play, or does he play somewhere else (CF?).

  4. Votto4life

    Yikes, I didn’t realize McClain was struggling so badly.

  5. Rednat

    Is this the time to sell high on EDLC. Perhaps a trade for some good pitching prospects?

    • Hunt4RedsOct

      Trade a possible franchise altering talent?

    • Doc

      What did the Nationals get for Juan Soto and how is that working out? Would you trade EDLC for the same results the Nationals are getting? I don’t know the answer, just posing the question.

  6. Melvin

    I’m looking forward to seeing EDLC playing for the Reds at any position. It will probably end up being CF eventually in my view. 😉

    • CI3J

      He’s definitely built like a CF, but from what I heard, he really, really wants to play SS.

      I’d love it if Barrero can hack it at SS, he’s definitely got the defensive chops. It’s been pretty encouraging watching him this year, even if the results aren’t quite there yet.

      If Barrero becomes the SS, EDLC really should try being a team-first player and moving to another position, with CF or RF being the most obvious choices, depending on if he or Friedl has the stronger throwing arm. I also wonder if EDLC could play 3B with Steer becoming more of a DH/Supersub type, since Steer doesn’t seem to be very gifted defensively.

      We’ll see. It’s going to be fascinating to see how things develop this season.

      • Melvin

        I’m guessing that EDLC would learn to really like playing CF. Besides, an argument can be made that he can actually showcase his “five tools” more in the outfield.

      • Doc

        Eric Davis might subtly nudge EDLC a bit towards center.