Last night was a good night to be at Great American Ball Park. The atmosphere was different and for good reason: Cincinnati had finally called up baseball’s top prospect and Elly De La Cruz was in the lineup and hitting cleanup. There was an energy not felt at the ole ballyard in quite a while. Fans had something else to be excited about for a franchise that has spent much of the last decade going through two different “rebuilds”.
After walking in his first trip to the plate, Elly De La Cruz lined a double in his second one. It was 112 MPH off of the bat and the hardest hit ball by a Cincinnati Red all season long. It was nowhere near the hardest hit ball by De La Cruz this season, but Triple-A isn’t the big leagues, either. That would be the lone hit for the day for the infielder, but he drew a second walk later in the game and his other batted ball was a 109 MPH ground out.
Outside of Cincinnati it was a pretty big deal that baseball’s top prospect got called up. Not as big as it was locally, but people took notice. Let’s take a look around the web and see what some of the national outlets were saying.
Dan Szymborski | Fangraphs
De La Cruz’s time with the Louisville Bats featured an average exit velocity of 93.4 mph and a 55% hard-hit percentage by StatCast’s reckoning. Now, there are still areas where he can improve offensively — for example, his 69% contact rate in Triple-A was on the low side — but one must remember he’s still a 21-year-old player who has rocketed through the minors, with little time to hang around and consolidate his gains. He’s also playing as fast as advertised, and gives the Reds a good shot to have their first 30/30 player since Brandon Phillips in 2007. The other two Reds in that particular club are Barry Larkin and Eric Davis, who were also pretty good as you may recall. Especially with the league’s stolen base boom, a 40-40 season isn’t impossible as an upside scenario unless he really goes full Ellraiser.
Syzmborski, the creator of ZiPS, decided to re-run the career projections for Elly De La Cruz after his start to the 2023 season. Things have gotten better, though understandably, not too much better given that the sample size of 2023 is still under 200 plate appearances. You’ll have to head over to this link to see what the projections look like (they’ve got to eat, too!), but in his prime they project an All-Star caliber player.
Jordan Shusterman | Fox Sports
You may not immediately recognize the author’s name, but you may be more familiar with Cespedes Family BBQ – of which Jordan is a part of. He was in town for the debut of Elly De La Cruz and wrote about it here.
Batting practice was a spectacle as expected. Early-arriving fans were treated to EDLC launching balls to the second deck right-handed and before punctuating his final round from the left side with a blast to the seats just below the video board in right field. This level of juice from both sides of the plate is rare to say the least, his violent swings capable of thunderous impact nearly unmatched.
Of course that was just pre-game stuff. Shusterman was left impressed by the debut – and why wouldn’t he have been? – but also wrote about the game as a whole that saw the Reds come back from down five runs to beat the Dodgers.
Updated Prospect Rankings
Baseball America updated their Top 100 prospects list today. Elly De La Cruz sits atop the list (he’ll remain eligible for prospect lists until he reached 130 at-bats in the big leagues). Matt McLain is in the top 50, while four other Cincinnati Reds prospects show up in the 50-100 range.