Elly's massive May rolls on with two-homer night
Reds fans far and wide entered 2023 envisioning the day when top prospect Elly De La Cruz would reach Cincinnati. That day might be rapidly approaching. It’s hard to find a hitter hotter than De La Cruz, the fourth-ranked prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline, who has spent the month
Reds fans far and wide entered 2023 envisioning the day when top prospect Elly De La Cruz would reach Cincinnati. That day might be rapidly approaching.
It’s hard to find a hitter hotter than De La Cruz, the fourth-ranked prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline, who has spent the month of May feasting on Triple-A pitching. And he shows no sign of stopping soon. The latest example came Friday, when the 21-year-old launched a pair of impressive homers in Triple-A Louisville’s 15-8 slugfest win over Syracuse.
Batting left-handed both times, De La Cruz belted a two-run opposite-field homer in the fourth and socked a 116.3 mph solo shot in the ninth, giving the shortstop phenom four homers in his past four games and nine in his last 17 contests. De La Cruz also added a single as part of Louisville’s 15-hit barrage to give him his second three-hit game of the month.
That’s the kind of May it’s been for De La Cruz, who didn’t make his season debut until April 20 due to a left hamstring strain and slumped early, entering the month with a .195 average and 18 strikeouts in his first nine games. He’s been on an absolute tear since, batting .341 with a 1.217 OPS, 17 extra-base hits and 26 RBIs in 21 games this month.
That’s boosted his season line to .294/.388/.651 with 10 homers, 31 RBIs, nine steals and a 1.039 OPS in 126 at-bats overall.
There have been 14 balls hit at 116+ mph in Triple-A this season.— Sam Dykstra (@SamDykstraMiLB) May 27, 2023
Elly De La Cruz is responsible for six of them, including this latest rocket.
I’ve seen enough. https://t.co/xloLHfjtZB
It’s not just De La Cruz’s production and dynamism that’s impressive. His tools produce statistical anomalies, his home runs are feats within themselves. His second homer Friday tied another De La Cruz blast from May 6 as the fifth-hardest round-tripper in Triple-A this season; five of the six hardest are De La Cruz homers.
For context: De La Cruz has six hits (five homers) of at least 115 mph this year, all in the past three weeks. In the Majors, Giancarlo Stanton is the only player with more than two all season (and he has four total). De La Cruz also owns the hardest-hit ball (regardless of outcome) in Triple-A or the Majors this season, at 118.8 mph, and the hardest throw by a position player recorded so far in 2023 (99.2 mph).
Just imagine those tools (especially the offensive tools) playing at Great American Ball Park.
All of which has De La Cruz — if not yet pounding down the big league door — definitely knocking, and loud enough the decision-makers in Cincinnati might start to hear him. This less than two years after De La Cruz made his debut in affiliated ball at age 19 in 2021 for Single-A Daytona, before emerging as perhaps the sport’s breakout prospect last summer and reaching Double-A. For a Reds organization that earlier this month promoted No. 5 prospect Matt McLain to be its everyday shortstop, it’s an exciting time with so much infield talent rising toward the Queen City.
Joe Trezza is an contributor for MiLB.com.