After a solid professional debut in 2019 as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League, the Cincinnati Reds brought Elly De La Cruz stateside for 2021. He remained in extended spring training, but once the rookie-level Arizona Complex League began the switch-hitter made it quite clear that he was ready for something else.

Elly De La Cruz only spent 11 games in Goodyear with the complex level team because he hit .400/.455/.780 with 11 extra-base hits. Enough was enough and it was clear he wasn’t being challenged enough and Cincinnati promoted him to Low-A Daytona where he would join the Tortugas.

The first week saw the extra-base hits continue despite the step up in competition as he had six of them in seven games. The 19-year-old went into a slump the next week, though, going 2-18 (.111) with just two walks. When the calendar flipped to August, so did the switch back into “get hits every day” mode. During August he would hit .300/.324/.610 with seven doubles, six triples, and four home runs in 24 games played.

For as much power as Elly De La Cruz hit for in August, it was the exact opposite in September. The shortstop played in 13 games during the month, going 12-46 (.261), but his lone extra-base hit of the month was a double on the final day of the season. He slugged just .283 on the month – leaving him with an OPS of .610, which was what he had slugged the month before.

For all 2021 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Elly De La Cruz Scouting Report

Position: Shortstop | B/T: S/R

Height: 6′ 5″ | Weight: 195 lbs | Acquired: International FA (2018)

Born: January 11, 2002

Hitting | Probably the worst tool of the five, it’s an average one that could play up a tad due to his speed that could allow a few extra infield hits.

Power | He’s already showing elite upper level exit velocities, and he was an extra-base hit machine. Some scouts have put an 80-grade, which is absolute top of the scale, on his raw power.

Speed | De La Cruz is a plus runner.

Defense | Currently can play shortstop, though he does need to work around the edges in his footwork and hands at the position. He’s a good defender, but could outgrow shortstop in the future.

Arm | He shows plus to plus-plus arm strength.

When it comes to all around tools there may not be much of a comparison for Elly De La Cruz in the Cincinnati Reds organization going back quite some time. He’s explosive, athletic, and as exciting of a player as you might see in the minors – Reds organization or not.

During 2021, De La Cruz was much better against left-handed pitchers, posting a .311/.380/.622 line with four walks and 12 strikeouts in 50 plate appearances. That’s a pretty small sample size to try and take too much information from. Against right-handed pitching he had 215 plate appearances during the season and hit .292/.326/.520 with 10 walks and 68 strikeouts.

Overall, the one area that seems like the part of his game that needs to be improved is his plate discipline. De La Cruz did a lot of damage in 2021, but he also chased a lot of pitches out of the zone, too. That led to plenty of strikeouts and a lack of walks. Ideally you want to see more walks than he’s shown thus far, but making more contact would also be beneficial.

Defensively there are plenty of unknowns about where Elly De La Cruz winds up. Currently he is fully capable of playing shortstop. But there’s a chance he continues to grow and has to move off of the position. If he does that, third base and centerfield are both seen as the next options. He’s had some experience at third base early on in his career, but has not yet played any outfield.

Elly De La Cruz Spray Charts

As a Left-Handed Hitter

As a Right-Handed Hitter

Interesting Stat on Elly De La Cruz

Half of his home runs went to center, including the only two that he hit as a righty on the season.

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16 Responses

  1. Hoyce

    Doug- his body type and profile scream Fernando tatis jr. tell me I’m wrong

    • Gaffer

      He’s no where near that good though. Tatis has an elite hit tool and good patience. We can hope he improves but likely a borderline MLB starter vs. an MVP candiadate.

      • Doug Gray

        Not exactly, Gaffer. I never unpacked my old books when I moved, so I can’t look up the tools grades that Baseball America had for Tatis when he was in the minors, but we can look at what Fangraphs handed out after his 2018 season in the minors:

        Hit: 40/50
        Game Power: 50/60
        Raw: 60/70
        Speed: 65/55
        Field: 50/55
        Throw: 60/60

        Back in July De La Cruz was given:
        Hit: 20/40
        Game Power: 25/60
        Raw: 65/80
        Speed: 70/70
        Field: 40/45

        I think some of those are going to get bumped up.

        Where De La Cruz really trails Tatis is the plate discipline. That’s where De La Cruz needs to make up ground. That’s also the toughest spot for a guy to make up ground – but the younger the guys are, the more likely it is that they can. The lost year, the back-and-forth with the “umpire zone” and the two different “robot strikezones” certainly add some uncertainty in there about just how much of the zone/plate discipline stuff was his approach/recognition and how much was just that absurdity of the situation Daytona specifically had to deal with. I personally think there’s probably a mix of both there – he absolutely has to get better at pitch recognition and his swing zone, but that the hitters for Daytona dealt with stuff that made their walks and strikeout rates worse than they otherwise would have been.

        As Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs said during the year: “If De La Cruz booms, it’ll be a boom so big it creates its own universe. The switch-hitter is among the toolsiest minor leaguers in baseball, a gigantic, projectable infielder with plus-plus speed, arm strength and power potential.”

      • Gaffer

        I think we agree based on this. Of course” Dely” could be huge but as you say his weaknesses at the plate is the one thing that really separates them, and it’s the one that rarely changes by a lot.

        Honestly that is what has prevented E. Suarez from being a consistent starter too. It’s also the only thing that makes Winker an MLB player and it’s enough to make him a borderline star.

    • Danny (merely a fan)

      Fernando Tatis Jr. is one of the best ball-players in the world. While Elly is exciting, he is nothing like a Tatis Jr. type talent.

      I do love the enthusiasm, but this comparison is certainly a Whoopsie!

  2. Old Big Ed

    They had him listed as about 6’2″, 155 earlier this year, so I suppose that he was still growing until recently. He seems like he will morph into a fast, big-armed rightfielder. His ceiling is as high as we’ve seen in the Reds organization in a generation; if he gets the plate discipline down, he will rise very fast.

    I don’t know how they teach plate discipline, other than through experience. The September slump may be a blessing in disguise, if it makes him understand the No. 1 Rule of Ted Williams: “Get a good pitch to hit.” He could probably use a good hitting/approach mentor like David Ortiz or Joey Votto, and/or a round of private sessions with a hitting coach like Rudy Jaramillo.

    I can’t decipher whether De La Cruz is playing winter ball.

    • Mike

      I was thinking right fielder as well. Wondering how he comps to Jose Siri.

    • Doug Gray

      The 6′ 2″ and 155 is still the listing most places. And the odds are that’s what he was when he signed, and it’s what was listed in 2019 when he was first put into the Reds Media Guide and his stats and info was placed into the MLB database. It probably hasn’t been updated since.

      As far as if he’s playing winter ball, it seems that it’s both yes and no. He posted a video the other day of him in the Licey dugout, in uniform, with a helmet on and a bat, during a game. But it was not the Licey game that was played under the lights. So I’m going to assume he’s playing in some scrimmage type stuff that’s a lower level for some of the younger guys to “stay fresh” in case they need to be called up.

  3. donny

    So he is 6-5 and not 6-2 ?
    If he can cut down on those strike outs what more can you ask for .

  4. Randy in Chatt

    Doug, we signed him as an IFA in 2018, remind us, was that the lean years after we had blown $7 million on AlfRod when we couldn’t spend more than ?$300,000? on any one player?

    If so, that proves teams can find gem on “lean” year budgets.

    • Gaffer

      Cueto was signed for about that number, Didi too. Reds actually have done better on Cuban MLB contracts and small IFA deals than the “big” ones. I guess Jose Berrios could change that as he was $5 million that same years as Alf Rod.

      • Doug Gray

        He signed for $65,000.

        Barrero and Vlad both have seemed to have been ones that worked out on the big end of things.

  5. MBS

    If he is 6’5 195, that would be one big SS. I looked up Tatis height and he’s 6’3 217. It makes me really think De La Cruz is destined for CF. I thought RF before, but I didn’t know he was as fast as Doug has him listed. MLB has him listed as a 55, but 70 is elite speed.

    • Doug Gray

      It would certainly be a tall shortstop, but not so far out of the realm of possibilities, either. Oneil Cruz, the guy he’s often compared to, is 6′ 7″ and at least for now, is playing shortstop (Pirates).

  6. Jonathan Linn

    He seems to be the most exciting prospect since Jay Bruce and Adam Dunn that I remember. What would Cruz’s low ceiling look like? a back up middle infielder or at AAA? Tools wise – how does he compare to Yorman Rodriguez?

  7. Danny (merely a fan)

    Fernando Tatis Jr. is one of the best ball-players in the world. While Elly is exciting, he is nothing like a Tatis Jr. type talent.

    I do love the enthusiasm, but this comparison is certainly a Whoopsie!