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.

35 Responses

  1. David

    EDLC has not gotten quite the “ink” (or photons) that big prospects in the Media centers get.
    He is an amazing talent, and could be (in my opinion) an impact player in the same category as Ken Griffey Jr, and Mike Trout.
    He has played one game in the Majors….but at age 21, barring any injuries, I think he will turn out to be a truly great player. His speed, quickness, amazing bat speed, throwing arm, etc. This indicates tremendous natural reflexes, and on top of the fact he is a pretty smart guy, and actually, at 21, has a high baseball IQ.
    Johnny Bench was an MVP at age 21, so yes, it is possible.
    I remember the first time I saw Eric Davis play (well, watching TV) in 1984, and it was immediately evident he was going to be a great player, and that is without seeing him at bat.

    • DW

      Yeah, can you imagine if he were with the Yankees?

      • greenmtred

        I can and it’s a hateful thought.

  2. Mark Moore

    Cue “The Future’s so Bright I’ve Gotta Wear Shades”

    We’ll see how game #2 plays out. It was amusing to see their pitchers try to avoid him and fail miserably at the task.

    SS it is for tonight while MattyMc takes a breather at DH. Still wondering where Barrero is (several suggested the dog house), but this looks like about as good a line-up as we can field at the moment.

  3. MCT

    I love that he’s finally been called up.

    Unrelated note: Is Fraley’s wrist OK from that HBP?

    • Mark Moore

      He’s playing RF and leading off. So unless he becomes a “late scratch” I’m thinking he’s OK.

      • MCT

        I see Benson in the lineup in RF. Hopefully that doesn’t mean Fraley is out for a while.

  4. Votto4life

    Last night on our way to the game a woman stopped us when we were about 4 blocks from GABP. “”Are you going to the game”. My wife said that we were and she said “You are so lucky you will get to see Elly De La Cruz!”

    Then I posted a picture from the game on FB. I immediately had for FB friends asking for our ticket stubs because it was EDLC’s first game. I have never seen such a response to a Red’s rookie in my life. Even when I checked in with
    my 92 year old mother the first thing she asked was “Are you Going to see Elly De La Cruz?” It’s crazy.

    • David

      Yeah, a LOT of Reds’ fans know exactly who he is. It is common to dismiss a lot of fans as being “uninformed”, but you would have to be a baseball fan living under a rock living in “Red’s Country” to not know about Elly De La Cruz, in some way, shape or form. There was a lot of excitement when Homer Bailey was called up, but nothing like this.
      And there was a lot of excitement about Josh Hamilton (the Natural), when he arrived as a Rule 5 draftee. A lot of people knew who he was.
      But nothing like this.

  5. Hanawi

    Have any reporters actually asked about the Barrero/Newman situation? It’s one thing to play one guy more than the other, but Barrero isn’t in the lineup again today and has not started any games on the homestand, while Newman is starting again and playing 3B. I assume they are trying to pump up his trade value, but have the Reds given any other explanation?

    • Votto4life

      I wouldn’t mind Jeff Newman remaining on the team in a more limited role. If David Bell is going to insist on starting him every, single game then I just as soon the Reds trade him.

      • LDS

        Like I said, Newman is 2-21 since Boston. There’s no logical reason for Bell to keep starting him. Neither Hopkins nor Barrero are progressing under Bell. And suddenly Bell likes Fairchild?

      • Tar Heel Red

        I assume you mean Kevin Newman? Jeff Newman was a catcher for the A’s and Red Sox and is currently almost 75 years old.

      • LDS

        Only 75? Can he play multiple positions? If so, sign him up. Bell will start him.

      • greenmtred

        You may have noticed that Friedl, Senzel and now Fraley are unavailable. That fact is probably related to Newman’s recent starts. And, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that he went 2 for 4 with a stolen base.

  6. Lid

    I’d expect Elly to do a 162 game stretch from June 2023-June 2024 like Eric Davis .. 47 HR, 149 Runs, 123 RBIs, 98 SBs … maybe less, since that was Eric’s Year 3/4 season?

  7. jj

    Electric is a definition, his speed on the bases and rocket bat, seems like a new energy has been taking shape and now even more with his arrival

  8. Votto4life

    I just hope the Reds don’t waste his career like they did with Votto. If there was ever an off-season for Bob Castellini to spend money it will be the one coming up. The clock is now ticking.

    • Bdh

      With all the young talent locked up for years on this team where exactly are you looking for him to spend?

      position players you could have next year

      1 – Stephenson
      2 – Steer
      3 – India
      4 – McLain
      5 – De La Cruz
      6 – Senzel
      7 – Fraley
      8 – Friedl
      9 – CES
      10 – backup catcher
      11 – Marte
      12 – Benson
      13 – Fairchild, Hopkins, Barrero, Votto?

      Not so sure I’m adding anything here. Probably some NRIs to have infield depth in AAA like they have this year

      Starting pitching

      1 – Greene
      2 – Lodolo
      3 – Ashcraft
      4 – Abbott
      5 – Williamson
      6 – Stoudt
      7 – Lively
      8 – Gutierrez
      9 – Dunn
      10 – Phillips

      I’d add a player here. Get the best player possible on a 2-4 year deal that won’t interfere with extensions on the current group


      1 – Diaz
      2 – Sims
      3 – Gibaut
      4 – Young
      5 – Law
      6 – Legumina
      7 – Salazar
      8 – Cruz
      9 – Sanmartin
      10 – Antone*
      11 – Santillan*

      + a couple starters I’d personally think should flip to relief to maximize their value. Specifically Boyle and Roa

      I’d add something here too but if they get the good versions of Santillan and Antone then I don’t know how much I’d add.

      Really I think 3 spots are all that need addressed.

      1 – a starting pitcher. Never know how the health will play out and while there’s a good amount of capable pitchers to step in, a reliable veteran arm added to this group should be a must

      2 – backup catcher – they’ll need to weigh Casali’s option year with what they think they can get on the market. Pick up his extra year or go looking again

      3 – bullpen help – should try to add at least 1 high leverage arm. Maybe they fry to bring Farmer back but if Antone and Santillan don’t return the same then they’ll need a back end pitcher to go with Diaz, Sims, and Gibaut.

      • MBS

        1 – reliable is nice, but…

        Urias Spotrac has him at ($25.7M X 6Y)
        Hader Spotrac has him at ($14.5M X 5Y)

        Let’s say there’s a Cincinnati tax, add 10% to it, and we’re at roughly $44M added to the payroll, which will probably get us just under $80M in 22. If Bob can’t spend that, then he shouldn’t own a team. Having too many good pitchers is never a bad thing.

      • BK

        I would prioritize Hader. The Padres are going to have trouble adding payroll. I bet the Dodgers will lock up Urias–if they don’t we should beware–they tend to make good baseball moves. In today’s game, adding to the bullpen makes more sense as starters a being pulled earlier and earlier.

        As for the “tax”–they should be thrilled to pay Ohio taxes vice California.

  9. mac624

    I’ll wait to cast my Hall of Fame vote for him until we see what he does by 500 ish MLB at bats, but I must say, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player like him in baseball. I’ve seen plenty that had the potential to be what he is today, or a player that has one of his traits, but certainly not all of them in one package. Some people were created by God to do certain things in life, and it’s obvious that Elly De la Cruz was simply created to be a baseball player. He’s obviously worked really hard to get where he is at, but it all seems so effortless. I’m glad he’s a Red and will be for a long time to come!

  10. Bdh

    Arroyo’s bat was cold to start the year in Dayton but has really come around lately. He’s 19 in high A ball so I’m not sure why he got completely booted from the top 100

  11. Moon

    There was another time when a young rookie created this kind of buzz after being called up to the majors. I was only 10 years old in August of 1967 and even I knew who this guy was. The young 19 year old catcher was of course Johnny Bench, who I still believe is/was the greatest catcher in major league history. Perhaps lightning will strike twice and we will see another great hall of fame player grace the diamond of GABP in the years to come.

    • Moon

      A friend just told me they were talking about ELDC on the local sports station. They were very impressed and believe he could be something very special My friend lives in Tampa…

    • Jimbo44CN

      I saw Bench as a rookie at Crosley field that year. Was 12 years old. He threw a guy out from his knees at second. Never seen anything like that before. Really great memory for me.

  12. DaveCT

    The comp I go to in watching Elly play is Ken Griffey. Jr. He has a similar youthful charisma and joy in playing the game. Not to mention incredible tools and ability.

  13. Indy Red Man

    Another thing I like about EDLC is his swing doesn’t seem long like a Darryl Strawberry or other tall players. He really is a unicorn. Old gaseous emissions like me can’t come close to comparing him to anyone

  14. SultanofSwaff

    Without thinking too hard, there’s at least 5 guys the Reds should attempt to extend right now. For such a penny pinching franchise, it would be in their interest because the longer they wait the price will go up up up.

  15. Beaufort Red

    Know I’m gonna get hammered for this but to you think the Hall of Fame is in the back of Votto’s mind? A lot of people ( not me) on MLB feel he barely qualifies now. I feel in his prime he was one of the best ,he barely has over 2000 hits and not even 350 home runs. He hasn’t hit over 266 since 2019 and his defense has been terrible. I know he wants one more shot at the playoffs, but if he comes up and starts hitting .220 is Bell going to sit CES or Steer? A very interesting predicament when or if he returns.

    • Rednat

      Joey will be a “character/citizenship” inductee to Cooperstown. He has been a great ambassador to the game and for the city and I think that will carry him across the finish line.

      as for as this year is concerned I think he will only play if he really thinks he can help the team. He just seems to be that kind of guy. I hope he gets to play and has a few more moments of glory that he will be able to remember for a long time. With the red’s team injury history he may be needed for our play off run

    • Kevin H

      Interesting thought and I think it depends on what those who choose consider hall of fame worthy numbers.

      I don’t know numbers, however would be curious to know how many in the hall had bad numbers last few years of careers?

    • AMDG

      It’s been said here before, but…

      Based on the traditional raw numbers, Votto is a borderline HOF candidate.
      Based on modern percentage and OPS+ types of numbers, he is deserving.

      Unfortunately he’s not been the great hitter he used to be (hasn’t even hit 0.285 or better since 2017), and the longer he plays the lower those percentages and such fall.

      Not to mention, he is compiling years of subpar play which will be the last impression he has made on voters.

      When he is healthy the Reds will call him up, and he will get a lot of playing time, despite the strong likelihood that he continues to struggle mightily. So, yes, he will take playing time from players who can hit.

  16. Melvin

    Considering he stays healthy he’s got potential Hall Of Fame written all over him.

  17. CFD3000

    EDLC – really exciting debut, and great fun to see him, McLain and Steer all playing well and with such enthusiasm. It’s infectious.

    Votto – highly likely Hall of Famer. He’s one of the first big OBP guys (non-Bonds division) in the analytics era. Counting stats will always matter for HoF, but OBP, OPS and OPS+ have taken over. And Votto has the hardware / rankings to back it up, leading the league in OBP and OPS, Gold Glove, All Star appearances and of course an MVP trophy to go along with a couple more top 3 seasons. And although he has declined from injury and/or age, his 2021 resurgence probably did put him over the top. Add in his transformation into a great ambassador for the game and for Cincinnati, and his positive relations with the media and fans (especially little kids) and I will be very surprised if he doesn’t get the nod eventually.

    So then the question is, if they stay healthy, who might be the next Red after Votto to get a plaque? It’s really exciting to think that EDLC and Hunter Greene could both be that good. And who knows about some of the other youngsters? It’s about to be a really fun few years for the Cincinnati Reds!