On Tuesday night Elly De La Cruz posted something interesting on Instagram. What was that you ask? It was the daily chart for the hardest hit baseballs during that day’s instructional league game. There were two things that really stood out from the chart he shared. The first thing was that De La Cruz had a single at 117.51 MPH off of the bat.

Let’s talk about that first. In the big leagues in the 2021 season there were only 28 baseballs that were hit harder than that. It’s a list of who’s who in the game when it comes to power hitters, too. Here’s the list of players that reached 117.5 MPH or harder during the season.

Player Max Exit Velo
Giancarlo Stanton 122.2
Manny Machado 119.6
Aaron Judge 119.0
Shohei Ohtani 119.0
Franchy Cordero 118.6
Pete Alonso 118.4
Oneil Cruz 118.2
Chris Gittens 118.0
Ronald Acuna Jr 117.9
Jorge Soler 117.9
Luis Robert 117.7

Those players make up the entire list from the Major Leagues. Giancarlo Stanton had the top 7 spots on the list, 10 of the top 11 spots, and 16 of the top 24 spots. He hits the ball harder than anyone alive.

Back to Elly De La Cruz, though – it’s just another notch in the “this dude has some of the more elite toolsets in all of minor league baseball” belt. We’re talking about a guy who has posted absolute elite level exit velocities, elite level speed, elite level arm strength – all 100% measurable and non-opinion based things. But if we wanted to get into the opinion based stuff, too, he’s an elite level athlete who has also produced some numbers on the playing field, as well.

Let’s talk a little bit about the other thing that really stood out. Perhaps you noticed it above, but if you didn’t let me share it with you: Ruben Ibarra hit a home run that went 478 feet. Four hundred feet. Plus seventy eight more feet.

Now, we do need to note the caveat for both Elly De La Cruz and Ruben Ibarra’s stats here that they did not come against big league pitching, so the comparison to the big league data obviously isn’t 1-to-1. But we do have access to all of the big league data and we don’t have access to much of the minor league data (but if you are reading this and do have access to the trackman data from the minors, contact me).

With that out of the way, there were only 6 home runs in Major League Baseball this season that topped 478 feet.

Player Distance
Miguel Sano 495
Tommy Pham 486
Yermin Mercedes 485
Adam Duvall 483
Ronald Acuna Jr. 481
Marcell Ozuna 479

That’s it. That’s the entire list for the 2021 Major League Baseball season. No Cincinnati Reds player has ever hit a home run that far in the Major Leagues since they began tracking it in 2015. I have been tracking home run distances in the minor leagues for the Reds since the 2017 season. No one has topped 478 there, either, but Leo Seminati came closer than anyone back in 2018 when he crushed one 477 feet with the AZL Reds. Only three other players have reached 470 feet in that time while with the Reds: Aristides Aquino hit one 471 feet in June of 2019 when he was with Louisville, Fidel Castro hit one 471 feet with the Arizona Complex League Reds on July 30th this past year, and Wilson Garcia hit one 470 feet with Chattanooga on August 19th this past season.

It is worth noting that for the 2021 minor league season I do not have the complete home run data like I do for the previous seasons. I currently have data on 343 of the home runs hit on the farm this year – almost all of which are from the full-season teams.

29 Responses

  1. DaveCT

    And Hose Torres with two if the hardest hit balls? Jay Alien, ok, a speed power mix. Torres? This kid impresses.

    • Stock

      Agree Dave.

      Jose Torres torched two ball.
      Jay Allen did so also.
      Elly De La Cruz crushed 3 balls. He had a single and two triples.

      Is Elly the Reds #3 prospect now?

      Maybe that title of Reds #3 prospect should go to Jay Allen?

      Jose Torres is in my top 20. But should he be in the top 10? He seems to be Ivan Johnson with 50% of the strikeouts but his playing time is so limited.

      • DaveCT

        If Barreto is still a prospect, then no. Barrera, Greene, Lodolo, then the next best. Elly, McClain, Ashcraft? Maybe Ivan Johnson really breaks out. But Elly could force the issue. You bet.

      • MBS

        With the emergence of De La Cruz, and the Drafting of McLain, and Torres we are seeing a glut of SS’s. Those 3 plus Barrero seem to be probable MLB’ers. Johnson, Rodriguez, Hernandez are more will they or won’t they guys.

        JB: R:55 A:60 F:55
        MM: R:60 A:60 F:50
        EC: R:55 A:55 F:50
        JT: R:45 A:60 F:60

        One of these guys will probably end up in CF, and it seems like they are ready to explore using JB there. I’d keep him at short, and put MM in CF hopefully by 23. EC or JT might end up as the 3B of the future.

        The Reds seem more fun, when you’re looking towards the future, instead of facing the current reality.

      • Alex Reds

        Based on level of competition at age, tools, and performance, De La Cruz should be the Reds #1 prospect and a top 10 prospect in all of baseball. Yes, I did a quick analysis.
        Prove me wrong – tell me what prospect is better, and for whom a team would trade De La Cruz for another prospect, since the other prospect is expected to be better and has more trade value. I am not considering prospects in MLB that don’t have prospect eligibility anymore.
        After reviewing the stats in a simple manner, the only players that I think could be argued to trade for are: OF Julio Rodriguez, C Adley Rutschman, OF Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, RHP Grayson Rodriguez, C Francisco Alvarez, OF Brennen Davis, and RHP Shane Baz. That’s only 8 players, so Elly De La Cruz should be a top 10 prospect in all of baseball.

      • Doug Gray

        Hunter Greene is a better prospect. Zero question in my mind.

        Elly De La Cruz has top 10 tools. But his walk rate keeps him out of that true upper echelon level right now. He absolutely has to walk more.

      • Stock

        I love these opinions. I agree with Alex in that Elly De La Cruz’ ceiling is so very high. In fact if you are only looking at ceilings I think Alex is under-rating De La Cruz.

        But those K’s are a bit much still. His BB% is far too low. Comparing him to Joey Gallo at the same level. The K% is about the same but Gallo walked 3 times as often. Comparing him to Javy Baez at the same level. The BB% is about the same but De La Cruz strikes out 50% more often.

        From what this says De La Cruz needs to work on his launch angle also. It seems to be about 10%. He needs it to be 15% – 25%. That said with his speed 10% is not bad either. Just not as many HR.

        If De La Cruz can finish next year with a 10% BB% and a 20% K% he is a top 5 prospect. If he does that in AA he is the top prospect in baseball.

      • Doug Gray

        Re: Launch angle…..

        From what? The information posted from one game? There’s zero value in even paying attention to that. You could have a month’s worth of data on launch angle and it’s not really enough to pay attention to unless it’s extreme in one way or the other.

      • Billy

        Actually, this is a good question for Doug. Is it out of the question that Elly de la Cruz could be a top 10 prospect in all of baseball next year at this time? Could he be the top prospect? If so, what would have to go right for him this coming year for that to happen? Does he just need to improve the BB% and K%, and do it against better competition? What would those numbers have to look like?

      • Doug Gray

        Can he be? Sure. He could be. I wouldn’t bet on it, though. The odds just aren’t great for anyone to be that guy.

        For him to do it he’s probably going to need to at least double his walk rate. His strikeout rate will probably have to come down quite a bit, too. If he does that, the other hitting numbers should follow just fine.

      • Stock

        Barrero is a prospect still and I believe him and Greene are easily the best two prospect in the organization right now. After that it is pretty close. Fangraphs has De La Cruz ahead of Lodolo right now. Lodolo is a low ceiling, high floor player. De La Cruz is a high ceiling, low floor player.

        What amazes me is the lack of love for Jay Allen. to have the K/BB ratio he had as an 18 year old 3 sport HS player is pretty amazing. He showed off his power and speed in AZ. I think he surprises people this month in the instructional league and pushes Lodolo down to #5. If McLain does really well Lodolo could be #6. Allen and De La Cruz could be very special players.

      • MK

        Dave thought you were the person on Family Feud when the question was: Give a name that begins with H, The player answered Jose.

  2. Tom

    It’s fun when you hear from observers and scouts that there is just something different. And of course the data will back that all the way up. Hope he makes it to Dayton soon, it would be worth the trip to go watch.

  3. Stock

    I did not base my assumption that De La Cruz is lacking in launch angle based upon one game. I already had that opinion prior to this post.

    1. It seems his extra base hits last year were mostly doubles and triples. Not enough of them left the park.
    2. His GB% is pretty high.
    3. His FB% is pretty low.
    4. I also watched a video you provided on here. The launch angle on those balls was not that of home runs even though you could tell the exit velocity was indeed enough to put the ball over the fence if the launch angle were a bit higher.

    20.8% of his extra base hits last year went for HR. The lowest % among hitters who hit at least 20 HR last year was 34.5%. Looking at speed guys who hit at least 12.5 HR last year and you get 32.6%. So it is not necessarily his speed inducing more doubles. This is indication #1 of a lower launch angle than desired.

    I just looked at 46 players with a GB% between 40% and 47% in the majors this year. Only 2 of them (Kyle Farmer, Jorge Soler) had a launch angle of at least 15%.

    The combination of the high GB%, Low FB% and excessively low HR/XBH ratio and the video brought me to this conclusion weeks ago.

    I also state he could be a top 5 prospect even if he does not change his launch angle but just gets his BB% into double digits and his K% down to 20%.

    • Andrew

      De la Cruz was playing the majority of the year 2.3 years younger than the league average and was a mere 19yo and stateside for the first time. I have no evidence to back this up because I’m some amateur, so if I am drastically wrong someone correct me, but I would argue launch angle might be the easiest component of a.batyers swing they can manipulate. It’s just the matter of the results of said tweak. As far as we know, the Reds didn’t mess with his swing when he was so productive and if he has this type of elite exit velocity and plus power, I’m confident the organization will make a concerted effort to adjust his swing to increase his launch angle.

      Seems to make sense too if he’s struggling with his K vs. BB rate. Fix that first, then tweak the angle.

      I’m more excited about seeing his development more than any propsect I’ve followed through this site in the last 10 years or more.

      • Stock

        I agree Andrew. And again I don’t think it is a huge problem right now. Part of the problem could be that he is only 19 and power comes with time (although power comes with bat speed and that is not lacking for him). Part of the problem is that he played his game in pitchers parks. Maybe a move to Dayton would double his home run rate. Part of his problem is he strikes out too much. If he puts more balls in play he will hit more home runs.

        A good example in what a change in launch angle can do is to look at Vladimir Gurrero Jr. His launch angle increased from 4.6% to 9.4% this year and his HR/BIP increased from 4.9% to 9.7%.

        But I agree with you this is an easy fix compared to improving his plate discipline.

  4. Michael P

    Doug, when do you anticipate releasing your top 20 year end prospect list?

  5. Randy in Chatt

    I am in the “Elly to centerfield” club. Speed, arm, power, etc. He ought to at least get time at both spots this offseason.

    • DaveCT

      I kinda hope he doesn’t grow much more. Hate to see him develop a long, loopy swing.

  6. Redsvol

    Love the info. Doug. I just looked up who these pitchers are in instructional league from the list Doug noted. Brock Burke and Owen White seem to be highly thought of pitching prospects and have had good years in past in the minors. The others, not so much and are simply very young.

    I am very interested to see this next generation of young guys develop. I can’t remember so many high ceiling hitters in the Reds minor leagues before. Maybe when Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce were coming thru but even they didn’t have both the offensive and defensive potential of De La Cruz, Allen, and Thomas. OF course will all depend on whether they can keep their walk rates up. I have to think De La Cruz will improve more once he gets out of the florida state league and also the pitching will become more consistent at the higher levels. Please don’t trade him!

  7. Jonathan Linn

    Speaking of position changes…I would be curious to what the discussion was like with Biggio moved from C to 2B and then to OF as well as when Yount moved from SS to CF. Both moved with great success; which doesn’t happen very often. Younts career was 70/80’s so that was really before I started watching based. Biggio I remember from the mid 90’s….

    • Billy

      If I recall, Yount was moved to CF to protect him because of a shoulder injury he’d suffered. And I think Biggio was pretty durable. I think he was moved to 2B to preserve his knees because he had good speed and was a real threat on the bases. At least that’s the way I remember it. Seems like a silly reason in today’s game.

      • Michael Smith

        Billy to follow up I think it was long term for Biggio to get his bat in the lineup as much as possible for as many years as possible.

      • MK

        They were also trying to play Paul Molitor at shortstop at the time and Gary Sheffield was on the way as a shortstop.

    • MK

      Probably not much different that when the Hit King moved from 2B to 3B back to 2B to CF to RF, to LF, back to 3B, to 1st Base. The first move to 3B didn’t make it out of Spring Training which is how Tommy Helms was a Rookie of the Year third baseman instead of second.