The stories about things that Elly De La Cruz has done on the baseball field sound made up. They aren’t. And on Saturday night in Louisville he added another tall tale to his legend.

The Cincinnati Reds top prospect walked in the 1st inning. That brought Christian Encarnacion-Strand to the plate and he lined a single into center and De La Cruz went 1st-to-3rd on a ball that no one has any right to do such a thing on, but we aren’t talking about a normal human being here. As De La Cruz slid into third just ahead of the tag, Encarnacion-Strand broke for second and he would easily beat the throw to second from the third baseman. The fielder faked a throw back to third base in an attempt to hold De La Cruz at the bag. It worked….. until he then turned his back to the infield and De La Cruz sprinted for the plate and slid in head first just ahead of the throw to score on the play.

The fact that the same guy who can do that on the bases also can hit 500-foot home runs and throw 100+ MPH across the infield is just insane. It doesn’t make sense. Elly De La Cruz is a guy who you have seen other players who can do one of the things he can do, except he can do all of them. He’s got Billy Hamilton’s speed, Shawon Dunston’s arm, and the raw power from both sides of the plate of anyone you can think of.

When Fangraphs dropped the line “But if De La Cruz ‘booms,’ it could be a boom on par with the one that created the universe” it somehow has turned out to feel accurate. While the top prospect in the game has gone out and done nothing but rake since he arrived in the United States in the summer of 2021, what he’s done in 2023 is something different.

Elly De La Cruz began the season on the injured list. When his season began in Triple-A Louisville he went 1-21 with 11 strikeouts to begin the season. And then just like that snap of his fingers, everything changed. He’s had 158 plate appearances since that 1-21 start and he’s hit .338/.447/.722 since then. Almost overnight he began to walk at an elite rate at the highest level of minor league baseball. And he’s done that as one of the youngest players in the league. At just 21-years-old he’s only played in nine games in the last three seasons where the pitcher he faced was younger than he was (and none this season).

58 Responses

  1. MBS

    Get that kid up here, it’s really crazy watching him play. SS/3B/CF/RF, just about anywhere except for C/1B/DH and I’m happy. I might even like to see him pitch, maybe not, but I bet he’d get a few K’s with that arm.

  2. Craig Z

    I’m going to see the Bats play Columbus this week, so for selfish reasons I hope the Reds wait a few more days to call him up.

    • Riverfront Randy

      Haha, Craig. I’ve been really selfish about that myself. Was getting pretty nervous and that he wouldn’t make it to Columbus but I breathed a little easier after that 0-5/5 K game a couple days ago. Can’t wait to see the legend in person.

    • Doc

      With you philosophically, but differ on dates. I’m hoping call up is June 146 since we will be traveling to Louisville and will take in games on 6/14 and 6/15!

      • Doc

        June 16. June 146 is in some other einstinian dimension.

      • Daytonnati

        It would be cool if June lasted 146 day, though … and October, too.

  3. Rednat

    I actually think he has more “closing speed” than Hamilton did because of his longer stride. Deion Sanders was the fastest first to third red I have ever seen but I think EDLC has him beat.

    I don’t know, I want to see him up here but i think he needs some fine tuning in the field if he is Going to be starting SS.

    Most importantly I want there to be a plan in place when he comes up here. i DON’T want a repeat of Senzel where he is bounced around all over the field.

    • Melvin

      Can’t he get that same “fine tuning” in the majors? 🙂

    • Redman

      I agree we need EDLC in a Reds uniform. Was at Fridays Reds Brewers game Senzel was one of the few brightspots @ 3rd base. Personally I would platoon EDLC in the outfield with his speed. Do not see any sense in him taking Sensel or Mclaines spot in the infield. If its not broke don’t fix it.

  4. VaRedsFan

    Soto was 19 when he came to MLB.
    Tatis 20.
    Griffey 19

    Elly…wait your turn

      • JB

        My favorite back then. Just yesterday wasn’t it?

      • Daytonnati

        Bench was 19, wasn’t he? Don Gullett was 19.

      • Jim Walker

        I referenced Bench on another thread yesterday. By the end of his age 24 season, he had won 2 NL MVP awards and was a 5 time NL All Star.

        He debuted in MLB at age 19 in September of 1967 and took over as the everyday catcher the following season.

    • Mike

      The Greatest of all time:

      Mays joined the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League in 1948, playing with them until the Giants signed him once he graduated from high school in 1950, then won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1951 after hitting 20 home runs to help the Giants win their first pennant in 14 years. After spending most of the next two years in the United States Army during the Korean War, he was named the NL Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1954 after winning the batting title with a .345 average and hitting 41 home runs

      Also for you Mclain fans (I picked him up in fanstasy) you should check out Casey Schmitt who is a much better defensive player and is also hitting well above 300.

    • Brian

      On June 10, 1944, 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall became the youngest person ever to play Major League Baseball when he pitched in a game for the Cincinnati Reds.

  5. Doc4uk

    Time to bring him up. Move India to 3B (Position he played in college) as his range is questionable at 2B . McClain to 2B. Steer and CES alternatate DH/1B. Trade India in the off season and put Steer or CES at 3B in 2024. Then the next dilemma will be what do you do with Marte in 2024/2025. He is the 3B of the future.

    Steer, Marte, and CES were all brought in from Trades as was Williamson. Kudos to the front office .

    • Kevin H

      Why trade India? He is heart and soul of this team. A leader, in my opinion you don’t trade a leader

      • A. Tate

        You are absolutely right, you don’t trade a leader!

    • Mike

      Any one of those players would do fine in the outfield, no need to trade

  6. JB

    To me it’s redicilous why these two are not moved up. Nobody is perfectly ready when they move up to the Majors. CES can’t move up until he walks more ? Let’s not even start with EDLC. You can find tune in the majors. When you are basically better than anybody on the major league team and can’t find a spot for you, well that tells me enough about who is running the team. Every player on the Reds has a problem they need to find tune. Some have a boat load. This is a team that has a chance to win this division but refuses to. I guess they would rather have Louisville win their division than win the Central.

  7. Mark A Verticchio

    India should move to left field when Marte comes up. 2024 – 2025 = 1B = CES and Steer, 2B = Mclain, SS = EDLC, 3B = Marte, LF = India, CF = Friedl, RF = Hopkins, C = Stephenson and Robinson, DH = CES and Steer. With some pitching this team could compete big time.

    • greenmtred

      I tend to agree with what Melvin said a few days ago: EDLC at third, McClain stays at SS, India stays at second. India purportedly may not have the arm for third. I know a few guys have been called up when they were younger than EDLC, but that’s relevent only if you believe all prospects are the same. It isn’t about age, anyway.

  8. GR

    Just an incredible play. De La Cruz was taking third the moment the ball fell and never slowed down from the moment. His instincts and his electrifying speed really stand out as a base runner. Add his arm and bat, can’t wait to see him in Cincinnati!

  9. Kevin H

    Can someone explain the taxi squad rule. Andrew Abbot was added to the taxi squad today. Does that mean he will pitch at some point? Otherwise why bring him up to taxi squad.

    • Tom Reeves

      Likely. It allows him to be with the MLB team and called up if/when the Reds need him and they make a roster move. It also gives the team some time to decide on the roster move if there are a few options.

  10. Tom Reeves

    Código de Trucos (cheat code in Spanish) seems like a good nickname for him. He look like he’s playing baseball with the cheat codes turned on.

  11. west larry

    Bring up EDLC and CES now. Abbott very soon. Votto, about three outfielders and the catching situation need to be addressed now. Well, Votto later-we can put him back on the thirty day I R if necessary. Some of these guys need to be optioned back to Louisville to get at bats. EDLC should play cf or third base. CES would play first and dh. With Lodolo injured, the reds need one additional type three starter. Maybe that’s Abbott?

  12. LDS

    The problem with calling up EDLC is Bell. Once he’s up, how does Bell use him? Keeping Barrero company on the bench? Bouncing around to various positions to fulfill Bell’s “utility” fetish? When he comes up, he needs to play every day just as McLain has. All McLain’s games have been at SS and he’s performing. Is that the best position for McLain? Probably not. So where does he go? 2nd? What about India? India or McLain to the OF? Then there’s 3rd. Where does Senzel go if EDLC is starting at 3rd? Or EDLC goes to SS and India moves to 3rd? Still have the Senzel surplus? Many here say it’s a good problem to have. It’s can be. But, with a manager who likes to promote multiple positions and regular playing time for all, it’s not. And then there’s the veteran presence issue. As you can see, Newman is again leading off. Benson is again starting. He’s a LH batter, don’t you know. Bell isn’t the guy to lead a young team. That’s clear. And it’s time to send Barrero to Louisville before he ossifies. He’ll never develop sitting on the bench. And for you many Barrero skeptics, recognize that his numbers are very similar to Stephenson despite having 75 fewer ABs, e.g., same number of HRs, 4 fewer RBIs, EV differ by .7, etc. Either numbers matter or they don’t. With Bell, they don’t. Hence, EDLC spending time in Louisville is frustrating, but less so than seeing him get Senzel’d once he’s in Cincinnati.

    • Tom Reeves

      Senzel goes to LF. That’s the easiest move. He’s played well in LF and his arm is stellar.

      EDCL to 3B
      McLain at SS
      India at 2B (for 2023 – might change after)
      Strand at 1B
      Stephenson at C
      Friedl (when back) at CF
      Fraley at RF
      Senzel at LF

      Newman at Utility
      Benson at Utility
      Barraro at Utility
      Casali at backup (and young pitcher) catcher

      If I’m trading anyone, it’s Maile at catcher for a relief pitcher.

      • Bob Purkey

        What are you doing with Steer?
        Senzel is FA after this year. . .bye, bye!

      • SlippinJimmy

        What if McLain plays 2nd and India is DH? I know he doesn’t fit the typical DH mold (whatever that is I guess) but he has been hitting well, and can run. I dunno.

        I still firmly believe the team should trade Stephenson. He just offers the least value to this team. He’s a weak catcher, and only an occasionally good hitter. His removal easily hurts the lineup the least.

      • The Duke

        Steer has an .850 OPS at the big league level so far this year, 1B is his until he doesn’t produce or someone has such good production at the MLB level to where something has to be done (trade, position switch). He’s also only 25, and is cheap the next three years.

        Stephenson goes back into a catcher rotation and plays about 110 games a year, he shouldn’t be DH’ing.

        Right now
        1. India, LF
        2. McClain, 2B
        3. EDLC, SS
        4. Steer, 1B
        5. Fraley, DH
        6. Friedl, RF
        7. Senzel, 3B
        8. Stephenson, C
        9. Hopkins, CF

        BN: Barrero, SS/2B
        BN: Newman, Util Inf
        BN: Fairchild, OF
        BN: Maile/Cassali, C

        If Votto somehow gets healthy and plays this year, then slot in him at DH and the OF depth is a little better.

        1. India, LF
        2. McClain, 2B
        3. EDLC, SS
        4. Steer, 1B
        5. CES, DH
        6. Friedl, CF
        7. Marte, 3B
        8. Fraley, RF
        9. Stephenson, C

        BN: Senzel, 3B/OF
        BN: Barrero, Util INF

        Two bench spots up for grabs, but Senzel can back up all three OF spots and 3B. Barrero can back up MIF, CES can back up 1B. Maybe spend on catcher depth and a power hitting corner OF with Votto coming off the books.

    • old-school

      Dont forget Myers and Votto will be back up by the Braves series on the 23rd. Thats why EDLC and CES are still in AAA. Krall is not giving up on his off-season plan for 3 catchers yet nor is he giving up on Will myers as the everyday RF nor is Joey Votto not playing. Roster crunch.

      June 23 starting lineup against righties

      Friedl CF
      McLain SS
      India 2b
      Votto 1b
      Steer DH
      Fraley LF
      Senzel 3b
      Stephenson C
      Myers RF

      Against lefties

      India 2b
      McLain SS
      Steer 3b
      Votto 1b
      Stephenson DH
      Senzel LF
      Myers RF
      Maile/Casali C
      Barrero CF

      Until Myers is traded or DFA’D and Stephenson is catching more then 40% of the time, the next wave is on pause.

      • Jim Walker

        Sadly, I agree. They tipped their hand when they used a “free” 40 man move (Lodolo to 60 day IL) to bring up Hopkins versus going on and bringing up EDLC who was already on the 40 man roster.

        I do think the rise of Newman could lead to him being traded sooner rather than later. However, we all know they aren’t getting anyone of tangible value for Myers unless they buy it via sending most of his outstanding salary along with him.

        And I also don’t like holding up the future for Joey V’s hoped for last hurrah. It is almost like son Phil has a plan on his whiteboard:

        “2023> Joey’s send off = big crowds and merchandise sales”
        “2024>EDLC’s arrival = big crowds and merchandise sales”

      • Old-school

        @ Jim
        Myers has a $1.5 million dollar team buyout for 2024 as well as $6 mil this year The Reds will play him every day from his June 20-ish return until the deadline. They would save $3.5 million by unloading him at the deadline so they will a low A lottery ticket. Casali has a clause I believe Reds owe him a $500k or something out if hes traded

      • Jim Walker

        @OS> Casali also has a $750K mutual option buyout against a $2.5m salary for 2024 along with the reassignment bonus which Cot’s says is $250K. So that’s an additional $1m (to base salary) somebody is going to pay eventually if they move him.

  13. SlippinJimmy

    The Honorable Intellectual David Bell is not impressed.

  14. Daytonnati

    I still like De La Cruz in CF. Billy Hamilton came up as a shortstop but was shifted to CF and that worked out great – defensively, anyway.

    • Doug Gray

      Hamilton moved to CF because he couldn’t make consistent throws from SS. Elly has no such problem. He should remain on the infield where his arm is a game changer. In center an arm like his is mostly wasted.

  15. JB WV

    I watch EDLC from the left side and I think of Darryl Strawberry. With a gun like that from right field and a tsunami of shortstops in the system already, and playing, that looks like the logical spot. Not limiting him to Strawberry’s ceiling, even though that in itself is high praise.

    • Doug Gray

      You are wasting so much athleticism by putting him in right field.

      • JB WV

        I haven’t seen him play short, can’t wait to see him. Great arm obviously, but how fluid is he at 6’5”? What’s your take, more so than McClain?

      • Doug Gray

        He’s better than McLain, who most scouts believe is a fringy shortstop and way better suited for second.

    • The Duke

      Put those other guys with lesser tools at some other position. Put the potential franchise player at SS

  16. MBS

    C Stephenson / Maile
    DH CES / Votto
    1B Votto / CES

    2B McLain / Reynolds
    3B India / Reynolds
    SS EDLC / Reynolds

    RF Steer / Benson
    CF Friedl / Hopkins
    LF Fraley / Hopkins

    Send Barrero down to get everyday AB’s in AAA, and reps in CF. I just don’t see how you had Myers back to this team. If they did, then drop Hopkins, and Benson back to AAA so they can get everyday playing time. Run with the 5 man OF of Steer, Friedl, Fraley, Myers, and Fairchild.

      • MBS

        Missed one I guess. I think Senzel’s best value at this point is as the weak side platoon for Fraley. He’d likely get the nod over Benson, or Hopkins.

  17. William

    The treatment by the Reds organization of EDLC is unfair at this point I think he has more talent than all the players. Does the leadership in this organization have a fair system? If I knew Bell had anything to do with ELDC not getting his opportunity, I would join the group that supports him being fired. I hope he has not supported ELDC staying at AAA. Maybe I just do not understand something here. I do not know it all. It just seems so unfair to me.

  18. Michael E

    De La Cruz SCREAMS CF to me. Now, could he make that change and not take away from his offense? I would think so. He is FAST, has a great arm, lengthy. THAT is CF over and over and over. Not RF, not 3B and probalby not SS given so many other potentially good options in Reds system. The fact he hasn’t been playing CF intermittently in minors, maybe once a week to get feet wet, worries me.

    Maybe the Reds know that switching positions was too big a risk to EDLC development? I can see that, lord knows we’d all be steaming if he went from great to average at the plate after making tons of errors in CF. Still, he is so perfectly matched for CF, that only if he DOESN’T want or like CF, should he not be told to work on that in the off-season, shagging flies, learning the right angles, learning to find and play the wall safely, etc.

  19. Michael E

    I made a comment a couple of years ago, about how if the Reds had drafted Mike Trout over Mike Leake, that the Reds probably would have been methodical in elevating him one level each year. Instead of setting MLB on fire in 2012 he’d probably have not been playing full-time until 2014.

    I am feeling a bit better about the Reds FO being more aggressive in promoting players the past two years. Why waste good years overpowering a minor league level? Now if the pitcher is doing great but can’t throw strikes enough, or if the hitter is doing great (stat wise), but striking out every 3 ABs, then maybe you do keep them down with clear instructions to improve in those areas.

    It’s refreshing to see minor league prospects actually meeting and exceeding expectations. It seems like, other than a few exceptions over the past 20 years, the Reds top prospects disappointed or got hurt regularly. Pitchers blowing out arms at 20 and never the same, hitters with promise regressing into strikeout machines or hitting well, with no power and no walks, etc.

    Refreshing. Maybe something was really changed in the system development and coaching? Was it prior GM’s doings? Whatever, lets hope it continues under Krall and Castellini. A big IF given how quickly they jettisoned the analytics gurus after a short two years.

  20. CFD3000

    Long term I like EDLC at SS, McLain at 2B, CES and Steer at 1B/DH, and Marte at 3B. Barrero in CF with Senzel (or a newer RH)/ Fraley in LF and Friedl in RF. Not sure who catches but I hope Stephenson returns to form. But that’s just Sunday night. Ask me again tomorrow I might have a slightly different opinion.

    But if EDLC is the best current SS in the system (who can actually hit), why wouldn’t you install him at that premium position?

    • CFD3000

      And by “long term” I mean starting ASAP – at least for EDLC.

  21. Jeff S

    EDLC not called up by now is just wrong…just wrong

    A good manager and front office would find a way to make it work
    and put the best line up on the field DAILY

    I would put all these kids in a room
    and explain that we are going to pour into you
    add some pieces
    and make noise
    with a future World Series as a goal

    If not, why would they stay?

    I’m tired of being a training camp for other teams