Cincinnati Reds' Elly De La Cruz tosses his bat as he watches his double against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning of a baseball game in Cincinnati, Tuesday, June 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)


Reds' future is as bright as ever and not just because of Elly

Ranked by the consensus among the top seven or eight prospects in Major League Baseball in spring training, 21-year-old Elly De La Cruz made his much-anticipated debut Tuesday night in the Cincinnati Reds' 9-8 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

[ More Bally Sports: Home | News | Videos ]

Considered a five-tool player who makes an impact at the plate, on the bases and on defense — and potentially in the clubhouse because of his positive attitude and high energy — De La Cruz immediately gave the Reds a big lift. Here were the most impressive parts of his first game in the major leagues.


Reds top prospect Elly De La Cruz impresses in MLB debut

1. Reds manager David Bell batted De La Cruz in the cleanup spot. A switch-hitter, De La Cruz slugged .633 in Triple A with a .335 isolated power percentage. Said Bell: "We know what kind of player Elly is. He's swinging the bat well and we think it's a fit. Obviously, there's comfort in Elly's ability. We believe he’s ready."

2. De La Cruz drew a walk in his first plate appearance after Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin failed to get him to chase breaking balls out of the zone. "They were pitching him like Barry Bonds," Bally Sports TV analyst Sam LeCure noted. De La Cruz had a 14.0% walk percentage in Triple A, 6.3% higher than his 2022 rate. He drew a second walk to extend the Cincinnati's fifth inning. The Reds ended up adding a run to cut their deficit to 8-4.

3. De La Cruz lined a 112.0 mph double for his first big-league hit, the hardest-hit ball by any Reds player this season and the hardest hit in MLB on the day. He also hit a grounder 108.7 mph, which was the second-hardest hit of the game by any player. Earlier this year in Triple A, De La Cruz hit a ball 118.8 mph. No one in the majors or minors has hit one harder.

4. Cruz hustled around the bases on his double, sprinting from home to second base in 7.74 seconds, which is 30.4 feet per second. Anything past 30.0 is considered elite. He also showed quick reaction time on the bases when scoring on Tyler Stephenson's two-run single in the first.

5. The Reds drew 22,602 fans, which is about 6,000 more than the average Tuesday night home game, a team official said. It also was about 9,000 more fans than Monday's crowd at Great American Ball Park, where the Reds average 19,000 fans per game. Fans gave De La Cruz a spirited ovation before his first at-bat in the bottom of the first inning, and the love continued through his other plate appearances.

6. De La Cruz wore uniform No. 44, also the number of Reds greats from previous generations — Eric Davis and Adam Dunn.

7. Among the multiple chains around his neck, De La Cruz wore a jewel-encrusted pendant that included a photo of him and his parents (Carmen and Antonio) from the day he signed a contract as a 16-year-old in 2018. To him, family is the most important thing.

8. Shortstop is said to be the best position on defense for the 6-foot-5 De La Cruz, who's also capable of playing second base. With fellow rookie Matt McLain doing well at short, the Reds started De La Cruz at third base, where he logged 565 innings in the minors. He did not have a lot of action at third against the Dodgers.

9. De La Cruz is the Reds' top prospect, but he's also just one of several rookies or relative newcomers already making an impact. McLain drove in the winning run against the Dodgers, one night after left-hander Andrew Abbott made a successful MLB debut in a 2-0 win against the Milwaukee Brewers. Spencer Steer is another rookie making a big contribution, and right-hander Hunter Greene and left-hander Brandon Williamson are being counted on for big innings this year.

10. The Reds rallied from a five-run deficit, including three runs in the bottom of the ninth, to beat the Dodgers. Cincy improved to 28-33, which puts them five games back in the National League Central and 4 1/2 games behind for the NL's last wild-card spot.

Elly De La Cruz

Elly De La Cruz full introductory press conference

Featured Podcast

See all