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.
This article was first sent out to those who support the site over on Patreon. Early access is one of the perks that you could get be joining up as a Patron and supporting the work done here at RedsMinorLeagues.com.