See also: Baseball America updated all its prospect rankings for subscribers in August.
After coming out of nowhere to burst onto the prospect scene in 2021, Elly De La Cruz not only picked up where he left off this season, but he took leaps forward.
The 20-year-old shortstop began the season at High-A Dayton, where he started slowly in April before turning things around. He put up a 1.026 OPS in his next 57 Midwest League games.
Heading into his Futures Game appearance, De La Cruz hat hit 20 home runs and stolen 28 bases. He went 0-for-1 in the prospect exhibition, then moved to Double-A Chattanooga on July 22.
De La Cruz did not slow down once he arrived in the Southern League. On the season, he hit .304/.359/.586 with 28 homers, 47 steals, 40 walks and 158 strikeouts in 120 games.
“We couldn’t be any more pleased,” Reds vice president of player development Shawn Pender said. “What stood out is his volume of work at two levels. There wasn’t a reduction in his production when he went to Double-A.
“For a kid his age to continue to demonstrate the same level of impact is pretty remarkable.”
Despite being the only 20-year-old in the Southern League with more than 100 at-bats, De La Cruz continued to hit for a high average, show off plenty of power—including a 491-foot home run on Aug. 18—and steal bases at a high rate.
His power-speed combination places him among rare company.
De La Cruz missed a 30-30 season by just two homers. Last season, Royals shortstop prospect Bobby Witt Jr. missed 30-30 by one stolen base.
But even 25 homer-30 steal seasons by prospects are few and few between. Notable examples from the past include active MLB outfielders George Springer (37-45 in 2013), Joc Pederson (33-30 in 2014), Luis Robert (32-36 in 2019) and Kyle Tucker (34-30 in 2019).
The future is bright for De La Cruz, who is truly a one-of-a-kind prospect.
— Righthander Chase Petty, acquired from the Twins for Sonny Gray during spring training, picked up his first professional win in his final start of the season. Working on a limited pitch count all season, Petty reached the five-inning mark just seven times during the year. The 19-year-old finally got credit for a win after throwing five shutout innings in High-A Dayton’s win on Sept. 4.
— Second baseman Carlos Jorge led the Arizona Complex League with 27 stolen bases while also finishing fifth with a .935 OPS as part of his .261/.405/.529 batting line.