We’ve already seen several impressive youngsters make their bows in the Majors this season, and now Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz gets his chance. The 21-year-old sensation has been called up by the Reds and will now join a young team that could be poised to do damage in the National League very soon. Here’s a closer look at De La Cruz and what he will bring to Cincinnati.
A Look at De La Cruz
Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz put up modest numbers — which included an .874 OPS and nine home runs across two levels — two seasons ago in the Cincinnati farm system. But just last year, De La Cruz broke out and turned himself into one of the best prospects in the league.
De La Cruz belted 28 home runs in the Minors during the 2022 season, 20 of which came in Dayton (A+). Between Dayton and Chattanooga (AA), De La Cruz posted a gaudy .945 OPS, 68 extra base hits, and mixed in 47 steals. That strong season led to De La Cruz’s inclusion in the 2022 Future Stars game in Los Angeles.
This season, De La Cruz has routinely lit up the Statcast machines in AAA, in a season that’s seen him post a 1.031 OPS with 12 home runs and 26 extra base hits over 38 games.
Standing at 6’5” and molded like Oneil Cruz and Fernando Tatis Jr., De La Cruz possesses an incredibly fast bat, alongside plus power and great baserunning speed. The 21-year-old didn’t walk much in his first full pro season in 2021, but his BB% rate has increased in recent years. However, that might change in the Majors if pitchers choose to attack De La Cruz more often. The Reds prospect is prone to whiffs and strikeouts, as indicated by his career 29.0% K% rate.
De La Cruz played mostly shortstop in the Minors, but it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll have to move off the position in the coming years given his size and how he may fill out over time. It’s highly likely that will be the case. However, De La Cruz should be able to play at short or third in the interim.
Without question, this is an exciting time for Reds fans. Not only have the Reds exceed expectations thus far in 2023, but fans of the club have also seen the debuts of fellow top prospects Matt McLain and Andrew Abbott. McLain, who was called up last month, hit .329 in his first 90 MLB plate appearances. As for Abbott, the 24-year-old struck out six over six scoreless innings in his first start on June 5.
In a corresponding move, the Reds placed Nick Senzel on the IL.
What it Means for the Reds and Fantasy Outlook
It was only a matter of time before De La Cruz received the call of the Majors. The 21-year-old’s numbers and skills proved to be too much for AAA pitchers, but now the question becomes how the Reds manage a now-deep infield.
A natural shortstop with some experience at third, De La Cruz will likely see time at both positions at the Majors. One scenario to do that would be to move Matt McLain — who played second in Louisville with De La Cruz — to second base and shift Jonathan India to third. Per MLB.com, India’s already taken grounders at third. However, De La Cruz’s first action in the Majors will come at third on June 6 when the Reds take on the Dodgers.
As far as De La Cruz’s fantasy outlook is concerned, we highly recommend grabbing the 21-year-old if he’s available in fantasy. De La Cruz has the potential to be a very good source for both home runs and steals, and the hitter-friendly confines in Cincinnati should help in the power department.