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The Reds have slowly found themselves creeping closer to contention in a wide-open NL Central division. The longer they stay there, the more likely it was they would be looking for some help from the minors.

And there might have been no better help in any minor league system than the dynamic Elly De La Cruz. The 21-year-old switch-hitter went from a player who did not appear at all on the MLB Pipeline 2021 Top 30 Reds prospects list to being the No. 4 prospect across baseball in May of 2023. Some, including the analysts at Baseball America, gave him a strong case to be the top prospect in all of baseball.

On Tuesday, the Reds finally gave De La Cruz the call, bringing him up to the majors.

De La Cruz struggled initially in his first taste of Triple-A. The 6-5, 200-pound shortstop slashed just .195/.233/.415 with 18 strikeouts, two walks and a home run for Louisville in April. As of May 30, however, he has obliterated the baseball since the calendar flipped. De La Cruz slashed .351/.462/.763 in the month of May with 10 home runs, 28 RBI, nine stolen bases, 20 walks and 25 strikeouts.

It’s not just the counting stats. On May 9, he recorded exit velocities of 118.8, 117.1 and 116.6 mph on a double and two home runs. No MLB team has had three balls with an exit velocity over 116 mph in the same game, per Joel Luckhaupt. He also threw a ball 99.2 mph from shortstop and was clocked in with a 31.1 feet per second sprint speed and a time of 11.19 seconds on a triple, according to Baseball America. Diamondbacks outfielders Corbin Carroll and Jake McCarthy are the only two players with faster triples in Triple-A or the majors.

The term “five-tool player” gets used a lot when talking about players, and certainly when looking at prospects coming up through the minors. In fewer cases is it more applicable than with De La Cruz, who is regarded as having top-of-the-scale power, speed and arm strength to go along with plus defense and an improving hit tool.

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Baseball fans have understandably been clamoring to see De La Cruz reach the majors to watch him put his skillset on display at the big league level. Tuesday, he finally got the call to join the Reds ahead of a home series against the Dodgers.

Did the Reds call up Elly De La Cruz?

There was some heightened speculation in May that De La Cruz could be on his way to the big leagues as early as May 30. On his Instagram story, De La Cruz posted a video of Heat star Jimmy Butler saying, “Boston, I’m on the way.” 

At the time, Cincinnati was set to begin a three-game series in Boston starting on Tuesday.

But on Tuesday, the Reds lineup was released with no sign of De La Cruz. Hours later, he continued to make his case with Louisville by blasting a two-run walk-off homer against Worcester. 

De La Cruz was finally called up June 6 to begin a series against the Dodgers at home.

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The biggest thing holding De La Cruz back for a while had been concerns with his plate discipline. He has a career strikeout rate of 29 percent, which can be a precursor to struggles in the majors where pitchers are better at exploiting weaknesses.

While he’s made improvements at Triple-A this year, Baseball America wrote that his chase rate has remained nearly the same as last year, though he has also reduced his overall swing rate and has worked counts more in his favor this year than last.

Elly De La Cruz stats

Here’s a look at how De La Cruz fared each season in the minors through May 30.

Year Level PA AVG/OBP/SLG HR SB/ATT BB% K%
2019 Rk 186 .285/.351/.382 1 3/9 7.5% 24.2%
2021 A, Rk 265 .296/.336/.539 8 10/15 5.3% 30.2%
2022 A+, AA 513 .304/.359/.586 28 47/53 7.8% 30.8%
2023 AAA 162 .304/.401/.659 11 11/17 13.5% 26.5%
Career 1,126 .299/.358/.551 48 71/94 8% 29%



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