On Sunday afternoon the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts played their final game of the season. Elly De La Cruz was not in the lineup. The Triple-A Louisville Bats season continues on for 10 more days and with De La Cruz sitting on 28 home runs and 47 stolen bases, along with just how well his season as a whole had gone, there was some thought that perhaps he had the day off for the Lookouts because he could be joining Louisville. That doesn’t seem to be the case. De La Cruz posted on Instagram on Sunday night that his season was complete (translated via google translate):

Thank you my God for not leaving me alone. Thanks for this 3rd season we do not stop we continue for more with God. 2222 done, next 2023 I’m coming for you with everything!!

If that is indeed the end of the season for Elly De La Cruz, what a season it was. He would finish with 31 doubles, 9 triples, 28 home runs, 47 steals in 53 attempts all while hitting .304/.359/.586 between stops in High-A Dayton with the Dragons and Double-A with the Chattanooga Lookouts.

Jacob Hurtubise and the first home run

If you are going to close out your season you may as well do it with a bang, right? That’s just what outfielder Jacob Hurtubise did on Sunday afternoon in Chattanooga’s season finale as he led off the bottom of the 1st inning with a homer. But for Hurtubise that home run was a bit different. He never homered in high school. While at Army for four seasons he never homered. In two summers playing in the Cape Cod League he never homered. And until Sunday, in two professional seasons he had never homered.

This isn’t the best story of the season on the Reds farm system – that nod has to go to Fernando Cruz making his way up to the big leagues as a reliever after being drafted as a shortstop in 2007 and then not pitching in affiliated baseball since 2015 before signing with the Reds in February. But outside of that one, this home run has to be at or near the top of the list for feel good stories.

42 Responses

  1. RedBB

    I’m fine with this. ELDC had a great season and I like seeing his average finish above .300. He’s a consensus top 20 prospect if not top 10 to start next year. I expect he may even make some top 4-5 lists as well. Law already has him at #8 and says on potential alone he is #1

  2. LDS

    Given the state of the Cincinnati bullpen and how well Cruz pitched in AAA, it’s a shame they waited as long as they did to call him up. I’d like to see EDLC finish up in Louisville, a preview of whether he’s ready. I’d also like to see them start working him in CF/OF prior to ST 2023. There are things to like about Siani, and though he’s a bit younger than his peers, his hitting is a bit lighter than the Reds will need from the OF, IMO. Great defense and base stealing ability, but will that be enough?

    • EyeballsInNooga

      Siani made great strides as a hitter this year. Him in April versus August was night and day. I think he’ll hit enough to play CF in the majors. He’s almost the opposite of most of their hitting prospects in terms of boom versus bust: I don’t think there’s upside to .300 or more than 10-15 homers, but there’s no risk of him hitting .170 with an enormous pile of Ks either. And virtually all the hitting prospects aside from CES fall into the latter bucket (yes, nobody wants to hear it, but De La Cruz could still bust).

      De La Cruz needs work from the right side especially but also against pitchers that change speeds well and on defense. I think if they’re patient with him he can play SS. He just needs reps on the dirt. It would not be a good idea to move him to CF just so he can hit .220 and cover CF badly on a 70-win team. He’s 20 years old. Give him another year. He’s ready for AAA, but he really shouldn’t be a candidate for OD – IMO, of course, but that’s from someone who sees the guys in Chattanooga and just wants them to succeed best, whenever that might be.

    • RedBB

      Siani also has an elite arm and gets on base a lot because of his very good plate discipline. (75 free passes in about 125 games)

      • EyeballsInNooga

        Yeah, that’s pretty much what I mean by “he’ll hit enough to play CF in the majors.” He’s not going to go crazy in the power column or in average, but he’ll walk enough, steal enough, and be plus in the field.

        I wouldn’t call his arm “elite,” if you’re splitting that off above “plus,” but the combination of that, the range, and the technique will make him an asset on defense.

      • RedBB

        Maybe not an elite arm but in terms of production and accuracy the results are elite. He has averaged more than an assist for every 10 games he has played. That’s insane production from a centerfielder. That’s a higher rate than Willie Mays, Griffey Jr, Andruw Jones, Kirby Puckett. I couldn’t find a CF with a higher assist rate although I’m sure there are. And yes I realize these are minor league stats.

    • LDS

      Thanks, I wasn’t suggesting that EDLC was the opening day CF/OF, just that with the Reds rather weak selection of OFs in the minors and their surplus of SSs, maybe it’s time to see if he can adjust. And yes, he could still bust. Hopefully, he doesn’t. The Reds don’t need another Senzel.

      • EyeballsInNooga

        I think they need to find at least one SS out of that crop who can actually play shortstop at an MLB level and hit MLB pitching.

        Right now I’m not sure that the group of Barrero, De La Cruz, or McLain contains any such player within the next year. Just a sad reality.

        But you’re dead-on about Senzel, and I think Barrero is next in that line. It’s time to not rush guys.

      • LDS

        Not ready to write off Barrero just yet. I’d like to see what he could do with better instruction/coaching.

      • DaveCT

        LDS, I agree, I don’t think it’s even close to time to write Barrero off. I’m still bullish on him and think he’ll be better. I like his defense, and I like his tools. The recent hitting instruction he received might be positive, but I’m don’t think we’ll necessarily see its outcome until Barrero has a chance to work on it off season. I mean, it is not easy to
        Learn a new batting approach late in the season in the major leagues.

      • Reaganspad

        I agree on Barrero

        The guy can play short. Jim thinks that they may not have managed our 3 rookie aces, well they really did wrong with Barrero. He was EDLC 2 years ago; top prospect, futures game, hr in the futures game except no time at AAA. He should have been at AAA this year instead of trying to learn to hit a curveball in the bigs.
        You had to do that with Aquino but Barrero has options

  3. RedsGettingBetter

    Maybe they want to protect EDLC from getting hurt in the final of this great season knowing his hard style of playing the game but since he is the #1 Reds prospect all of us would like seeing him playing some games at AAA so can taste some of this flavour that will come the next year

      • Tom

        OK yeah I didn’t see a way to register. FYI I would pay not to see ads if that became available in the future. I’m a Patreon person already.

      • Doug Gray

        I don’t even know what that would entail, but for $10,000 a year I’ll figure it out and build it.

  4. Optimist

    I voted to push EDLC to AAA for this week, but also think he may not arrive until mid or late-2024. Nooga fans seem to get it right – highest ceiling in years but still noticeable holes to fix.

    OTOH Siani sounds like a variant of Drew Stubbs – less power, but much better BB/k %, very capable defensive CF. How much more time does he need in AAA? Could he be up next July-August?

  5. Matt

    It’ll be interesting to see where Hurtubise ends up in the grand scheme of things. Right now he’s below Siani, Cerda, and Hopkins on the MiLB CF depth chart from a shiny prospect status standpoint. I don’t know how all of their defenses compare to each other, but out of the 4 Hurtubise had the best OBP by a decent margin.

    An interesting lineup could be made in the future by dudes who take walks and get on base (Siani, Cerda, Hurtubise) and guys with pop (McGarry, Hinds) and guys who do both (Stephenson, EDLC, Marte, CES).

    • EyeballsInNooga

      Defense is Siani >>Hurtubise/Cerda>Hopkins in CF. Hurtubise has good range and an average arm with well above-average accuracy and Cerda has fringy range and an absolute cannon. They may net out.

      Hopkins in CF isn’t something I’d want to see in the majors. He could do it in an absolute pinch, but it’d be a notable weakness on D.

      • Matt

        Gotcha. I’ve never really actually got to watch any of them live, just base off of stats and what I read here and (some things) on the Twitterverse. Thanks for the insight!

  6. JaxDan

    Is it possible that EDLC did not get promoted because he did not finish the season strong with zero home runs and a slash line of. 286/.322/.411

  7. DaveCT

    I understand the feeling to move EDLC to another position and, presumedly, speed up his movement up in the system.

    To which I reply, it’s not like we have Derek Jeter at SS (cue ARod’s move to 3B). No, EDLC is not Alex Rodriguez. Yes, he has to prove he can play SS at a high level.

    However, I just don’t see the need of moving a high value player off of a high value position, if not the highest value position, before he demonstrates his need and the team’s need to move him.

    I also do not see the need to accelerate his movement, especially combined with learning a new position, ie Senzel, Barrero. It seems pretty obvious Elly will move quite well at his own rate.

    Assuming Elly has the highest ceiling of this current group of infield prospects, why move him vs. Marte, McLain, Arroyo, etc? It makes no sense to me.

    The fun part of having so many high quality moving parts is moving them around. Projecting rosters and lineups etc is great.

    I would just hope there can be some agreement to let EDLC develop at his own speed and in a way which is most beneficial to him, and to me that means leaving him at SS until it’s clear he should move.

  8. James K

    One possible reason for not promoting EDLC to AAA at this time: Hey, he’s young, he has been away from home for a long time in a country where he doesn’t speak the language, he may be eager to go home. That’s worth considering.

  9. MBS

    There seems to be a consensus here that EDLC need more time cooking. That maybe the case, to be fair I don’t watch minor league ball, just scan the box scores. I wouldn’t rush him, but I would challenge him, and not limit his advancement. If he’s batting .220 a month into AAA, don’t promote him, but what if he’s mashing?

    I also read the articles, and most reports on him seem to question his ability to stick as SS. Personal I don’t want a SS who we hope can learn to defend the position. There are 3 premium positions on the field, CF seems to be the best fit for his tools. Just my feelings.

    • DaveCT

      Most reservations I’ve seen as to whether EDLC sticks at short have been here (and that’s not the same as concerns about improving his current defense, though).

      In fact, from his mid-season eval at Baseball America (subscription), they said this:

      “He has a legitimate shot to stick at short thanks to excellent hands and his railgun of an arm, but he would fit at third or in center field as well.”

      He also is reported to have an enormous aptitude for learning and improving his game, as well as other intangible skills.

      So my thing is, why mess with success? Why risk creating an unnecessary bump in the road when there are and will be plenty to go around anyway? Or, why risk an unforced error when there is no need, at least not as yet identified. Elite talent doesn’t grow on trees.

      I’m not opposed to Elly moving off of SS if that’s necessary defensively, or if he physically outgrows the position. I love quality shortstop play as much or more than any other position.

      I am arguing that he be given every opportunity to develop at SS, as it is the path of least resistance. I wouldn’t support leaving him there if his struggles are too much, ie sticking at short when it hurts the team or risks breaking down his confidence. But the kid is 20. He has played his butt off and IMO, again, should be ‘left alone’ at short until such time as he identifies a need to switch via his play.

    • EyeballsInNooga

      He has really good hands that would be wasted in CF. There’s a little work to do in terms of footwork and not going hero-ball on plays he shouldn’t be throwing. But when I can clearly recall several of his errors being on balls almost nobody gets to, there’s too much upside to ignore.

      Honestly he looks further along as a shortstop in AA than Barrero did. Same types of mistakes but more jaw-dropper plays as well.

      He’s rougher at 3B. He plays the position like a SS who’s never been stuck over there before.

      • DaveCT

        Thanks for the eye test. Like many 20 year olds, he may actually believe he is Superman and can make many of the plays.

    • MK

      I’ve seen all the shortstops that have come through Dayton. Though most were in Low A at the time Elly was still younger than most. Barrero was young also but his was low A. The best shortstop defensively was Miguel Rojas by far. Elly was as good there as anyone else and including Fraiser, Gregorious, Barrero, Cozart, McLain, Hernandez. I would say Rojas was the only one better than Elly. People look at him and say he is too tall to be a shortstop but when you watch each day it is not the case. Leave him at short and platoon Barrero in the outfield until he proves he can hit. I would also give McLain a shot at second next year and move India to left field. Pete sure made that move successfully after a couple years at second and a ROY award.

      • MBS

        @Dave / @Eye / @MK you all make good points, but we will have to disagree. For me wasting time is a bigger sin. Obviously we have different approaches.

        A Question if any are looking back at this. What if 23 Barrero is hitting .280 BA, with 800 OPS? Do you then move De La Cruz to another position, because our former top prospect is now living up to expectations, or do you still replace Barrero at SS with EDLC?

        This is the key for me. If the Reds keep Barrero as the SS, then I’d have lost a years worth of development for EDLC as a CF.

        If Barrero fails to produce, Sure I’ve lost EDLC as a SS since he’s now my CF, but I have McLain, Marte, and Arroyo in line to take replace Barrero at SS, and all 3 are top 100 prospects. I also would not have wasted any of EDLC’s development time.

      • EyeballsInNooga

        @MBS: The thing is that De La Cruz isn’t 100% ready even as a hitter. He’s a switch-hitter, and his swing from the right side still needs some work. You’re not delaying him by sticking him in AAA. You’d be rushing him by putting him in MLB next year, and having a guy learn a completely new position while also likely being overmatched from one side of the plate is just not the way I’d go about things.

        And as to the question: if Barrero hits .280 with an .800 OPS, then you probably do move De La Cruz. But that’s only slightly more likely than Barry Larkin hitting .280 for the Reds next year. I’m struggling to remember a guy whose entire hitting approach got so mangled between AA and the majors.

        Also, if you replace De La Cruz with McLain at SS, you’ve lost a ton of defensive potential. De La Cruz has Gold Glove potential if he can cut down the errors. McLain is Gavin Lux on defense. That’s not the kind of tradeoff I’d make unless I really had to.

        And what’s the hurry with De La Cruz? Next year’s Reds team isn’t going to be good with or without him. They won’t start 3-22 but they likely won’t come within 10 games of .500 either.

      • MBS

        “I wouldn’t rush him, but I would challenge him, and not limit his advancement.”

        I conceded that he should start in AAA, but only as long as necessary.

        De La Cruz has Gold Glove potential if he can cut down the errors. If I stop eating doughnuts I’ll be skinny, but that doesn’t mean it will happen.

        McLain has been questioned as a SS, as has Marte, as has EDLC, the only one’s who haven’t are Barrero, and Arroyo.

        I also agree .280BA with a 800 is unlikely to happen, I just wanted to see how deep the desire was to make EDLC the SS. Is it a religious belief, or a pragmatic decision.

        My final bit on this is they didn’t draft and trade for all of these SS, to all play SS. Some peoples favorites for the position are going to be disappointed when they move them to address the areas of need for the team.

        **I don’t want to come off as a jerk, I like to debate points, and I agree a lot more with you guys than I disagree. I also learn more when ideas are fleshed out in debates**

      • DaveCT

        Derek Jeter had over 50 errors at SS in A ball. We talk about learning from Tampa Bay and the Cardinals. Why not also learn from the NYY, the team with the most championships?

        I hope Barrero is hitting his butt off next year, and I actually think he may. If Elly plays well enough to be promoted, there are plenty of creative solutions.

        This has been a good discussion. IMO, things boil down to whether to approach Elly in a player development point of view or more production oriented.

      • DaveCT

        Miguel Rojas has had a really good career. And that’s the thing for me with guys like Hernandez, Rivas, etc., is you just don’t know what one of these kids can make themselves into.

  10. Fanman

    Hoping Barrero develops as a hitter. Tremendous SS. I am okay with EDLC sticking at SS too. Would be nice to have the athleticism of both players together. If EDLC is moved then hopefully not to 3b or 1b because imo wasting his speed/athleticism. Profile well in CF, or even RF..

  11. Doc4uk

    What in the world happened to Ashcraft tonight and why did they let him get beaten up so badly? 11 Hits and 8 runs and 77 pitches in just a little over 2 innings.

    • Optimist

      Just saw Doug’s tweet, and have to believe it was simply about pitch count, and throwing strikes. No walks, 2/1 strike/ball ratio, just sounds like there was zero issue about how the box score looked.

      I’m a lot more concerned about Boyle’s first few starts in AA. Need to keep him working over the winter to get a fast start next season. Hoping he can move up to AAA sometime next year. Phillips and Petty need to keep moving as well.

    • Doug Gray

      The results don’t matter here. It’s about preparing Ashcraft to pitch in the big leagues. That means getting his pitch count to where it needs to be.

  12. AMDG

    I must have slept for 200 years?
    Did Elly say he just completed the 2222 season?

    Seriously though, Barrero is a very good defender, but he hasn’t exactly run away with the SS job in Cincy.

    If EDLC is a comparable defender (which the consensus seems to be that he is), then I’d vote to try him at SS of the future, and find a new home for Barrero.

    EDLC is already way ahead of Barrero with the bat.
    As a 20-year old Barrero hit 0.245 / 0.290 / 0.344 in low A
    As a 20-year old EDLC just hit 0.300 / 0.360 / 0.575 A+ and AA