Last summer saw Elly De La Cruz go from off the mainstream prospect radar to the Top 100 Prospects.
De La Cruz showed big tools across the board and produced a batting line of .296/.336/.539 with eight home runs and 10 stolen bases in 61 games, 50 of those for Low-A Daytona. His only previous pro experienced was 43 games in the Dominican Summer League in 2019.
The 6-foot-4, 204-pound shortstop/third baseman continued to impress and stand out on the backfields this spring.
“He’s just a really exciting kid when you look at where he was 16 months ago and how he’s developed,” Reds vice president of player development Shawn Pender said. “You expect it to come with someone who’s a talented player, but he’s come faster and further than any of us could have expected.
“And with an aptitude and a baseball IQ that is well beyond his years.”
With 35 extra-base hits in 61 games last season, De La Cruz was clearly doing damage when he made contact. But he also struck out 80 times and he drew just 14 walks, showing an area where the 20-year-old could make improvements.
This spring it seemed that he was doing just that.
“His at-bats have been very mature,” Pender said. “I think he’s reducing his chase rate. He’s got power from both sides of the plate, certainly more so lefthanded, but that’s just because he gets more lefthanded at-bats.”
The infielder was given the opportunity to join the big league club in spring training for a day late in March and he took full advantage.
With the bases loaded in the eighth inning, he took the first pitch he saw from MLB reliever Brad Boxberger and deposited it approximately 430 feet onto the grass beyond the wall in center field for a grand slam.
— With De La Cruz, Jose Barrero, and 2021 first-rounder Matt McLain, the Reds have a spoil of riches at shortstop in the minors. Perhaps in the near future, the organization will have to find a way to get them all on the same field.