It’s got to be tough to find a true breakout in just two years like we have seen from Elly De La Cruz. After being virtually unknown entering the 2021 season he’s gone from there to being one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and even just that sentence undersells the hype. After exploding onto the prospect landscape in the summer of 2021 he took things to another level in 2022.
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When the 2022 season began the Cincinnati Reds sent the shortstop to High-A Dayton to kick his season off. In the first month of the year he got out to a bit of a slow start. Over the first 21 games he hit .256/.326/.449, showing off good power, but nothing else at the plate really stood out.
From there, though, Elly De La Cruz turned things up to 11. Over his next 52 games with Dayton, taking him up to the All-Star break, he would hit .320/.373/.670 with 10 doubles, 5 triples, 17 home runs, and he would steal 20 bases in 21 attempts. While that wasn’t technically the All-Star break for the Midwest League, it was for the big leagues and it meant that the Futures Game was happening and De La Cruz was one of the Reds representatives, so he headed out to Los Angeles and went 0-1 in the game.
After the game was over so was his time in Dayton as Cincinnati promoted him to Double-A Chattanooga. The first week-and-a-half was a rough adjustment for De La Cruz as he hit .220 with just one walk and 14 strikeouts. But once the month of August began things turned around pretty quickly for the 20-year-old. Over the next – and final – 38 games he would hit .329/.388/.584 for the Lookouts and steal 15 bases.
When the season was over the Reds top prospect fell just short of a 30-30 season, finishing with 28 home runs and 47 stolen bases. He did that while also hitting a combined .304/.359/.586 and adding in 31 doubles and 9 triples. It’s one of the all-timer seasons for a minor leaguer in the organization that resulted in him becoming just the third player since 1960 – as far back as we seem to have complete records for the farm system – that a player has won the Triple Crown within the organization (his 86 RBI also led the Reds minor leagues). The other two players who did so were 29-years-old and 32-years-old.
For all 2022 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: 200 lbs | Acquired: International FA (2018)
Born: January 11, 2002
Hitting | An above-average tool that may not quite play there unless he can make a little more contact. His speed can help negate that some as he should be able to gain a few additional infield hits along the way, but cutting down on the strikeouts would go a lot further to allowing him to pick up more hits.
Power | A plus tool now with plus-plus raw in the cart waiting. While the 500+ foot home run that we heard about from Chattanooga was downgraded to closer to 430 feet, he did hit a confirmed 491-foot home run a few weeks later. But it’s not just the home run power here – his speed allows him to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples.
Speed | He is a plus-plus runner and he knows how to use his speed very well.
Defense | Despite being 6′ 5″ or maybe taller, De La Cruz can play shortstop just fine. At 20-years-old he still has some things he needs to be more consistent with at times, but he’s got the hands, instincts, range, and arm to play the position.
Arm | He has a plus to plus-plus arm.
If there’s a player in the minor leagues who can rival the all around toolset of Elly De La Cruz I would like to see who that player is. He’s as explosive of a player as they come with nearly unmatched power and speed. It’s not just those things that people rave about, though. He’s praised for just how smart he plays the game and for his passion for the game.
Entering the season there were plenty of questions that needed to be answered on the resume for De La Cruz after a breakout season that only lasted a few months since he didn’t begin playing until nearly the midseason mark. In 2022 he answered plenty of those. His low walk rate and some questions about his pitch recognition and plate discipline, while not moving into an elite range, showed big improvements over the previous season and improved throughout the season as well. His strikeout rate remained higher than you would like it to be, and given his height it’s probably never going to get to a better than average range but it is likely to improve a little bit as the years progress further into his career.
Elly De La Cruz Spray Charts
As a Left-Handed Hitter
As a Right-Handed Hitter
Interesting Stat on Elly De La Cruz
He did a lot more damage on the road than he did at home in 2022. When away from his home ballpark he hit .341/.401/.628 during the year. At home he hit .270/.320/.548. He had 14 home runs in both sets of splits, but 8 of his 9 triples came at home, while 20 of his 31 doubles were on the road.
Off the subject a bit but Fantrax just released their top 20 prospects.
Each of the two analysts at Fantrax create their own list. Five players made their list that did not make my top 25.
Eric Cross had Victor Acosta at #12, Brandon Williamson at #13, Justin Boyd at 18, Donovan Antonia at 19 and Logan Tanner at 20.
Chris Clegg had Victor Acosta at 12, Brandon Williamson at 15, Steven Hajjar at 17, Levi Stoudt at 18 and Logan Tanner at 20.
I hope Doug and these two analysts are right in that Victor Acosta is a top 20 prospect. Both these two analysts and Doug rated Williamson much higher than I did. Again I hope they are right and that Williamson’s 2022 was derailed by injury.
Logan Tanner made the top 20 for each analyst. I don’t know if draft position played a role in this but it is encouraging. Same for Justin Boyd.
I think Hajjar would have been in my top 25 if not for injury. Looking forward to him in 2023. Stoudt seems like a RP at best so I think this ranking is unwarrented.
I had Donovan Antonia in my top 25 at mid-season but he kind of got lost in the shuffle after all the trades.
Finally, these experts feel it is important to get to a Daytona game if you live in the area. they must think this team will be exciting because they both ranked Collier and Jorge in the top 10, Acosta at #12 and included Balcazar and Sal Stewart in their top 20. They also had Logan Tanner in their top 20 and although I think he will begin in Dayton he may begin the year in Daytona. Throw in that Cross has Antonia, Almonte and Boyd in the top 20. That makes 7 – 9 of Cross’ top 20 who will begin the season in Daytona. All of them are offensive players. 3 MI, 2 CI 3 OF and 1 Catcher.
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Thanks for sharing Stock
Very good, even this report was before Connor Phillips being the PTBNL selected from Mariners in the Winker/Suarez trade… Pretty nice Reds farm system at the expense of getting a poor major league team but it is a rebuild, we have to be patient…
Interesting that Cross didn’t have Boyle in his top-20. Boyle is almost at the HOF or bust line.
They are both pretty high on CES, which may indicate that stats play more heavily in their analysis than scouting.
Thanks Michael and great observation MK. You made me laugh Optimist even though it was a poke.
Stock – until he proves otherwise (which I suspect we’ll know by this mid-season) I lean to the Boyle HOF side. No I don’t expect that, but I am expecting a very good starter, perhaps a #1/2 rotation guy. Just surprised he’s unrated at all – seems like #10-20 rank is hedging it just right.
As you know Optimist, I agree with you.
Very important part of this summary:
“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.”
Doug does impressive work – support is vital.
Doug, FYI, your link to your Top 25 prospects is labeled “2032” vs. “2023”.
Thanks for the great scouting report and all of the other info you provide about the Red’s farm system. You are truly the gold standard.
Good looking out, BK.
I just hope they do not promote him before he’s ready. See above Senzel, Barrero.
I believe they promoted both Senzel and Barrero well after they were ready, and jerked around their playing time right out of the gate. If they do that with Elly, I’ll probably not burn down the stadium, but I’ll be pretty upset.
My thinking is they promoted Senzel before he’d learned how to play the outfield, all of 8 games at AAA (and then jerked him around) . They promoted Barrero from Single A ball and he clearly wasn’t ready, then proceeded to also have him learn the outfield in the ML’s. P
Doug, probably getting a little ahead of myself, but De la Cruz is the most I’ve been excited about a prospect since Votto: Do you believe that if he’s as good as advertised, the Castellinis would be willing to offer him an “Atlanta Braves” type contract where they buy up his league minimum/arbitration years in exchange for an additional 4-5 years at a reduced rate?
Sure, I think they’d offer it. They have tried to do it in the past and been slightly less successful at buying out additional years, but have gotten it done with a few guys and bought out 2 years of FA.