The winter league season is officially over for Cincinnati Reds top prospect Elly De La Cruz. The 20-year-old shortstop played in 25 games for Licey, hitting .286/.396/.417 with seven extra-base hits, nine stolen bases, 16 walks, and 27 strikeouts in 101 plate appearances. Worth noting that a scoring change occurred in a game played in October that resulted in De La Cruz getting credited for a hit instead of a fielders choice. That hit has not been reflected in many places, including Baseball Reference, so you may see a different triple-slash line if you go searching for it. I am pulling the numbers directly from the LIDOM’s official website.
While the line above seems good, and it is, perspective needs to be added here. De La Cruz is 20-years-old, while the average position player in the league is 28 (and the average pitcher is 30). There were only three younger position players int he league and only one of them managed to get 35 plate appearances. De La Cruz was easily the youngest every day player in the league and he put up an OPS of .813. The Dominican Winter League is a very pitcher friendly league. The baseball doesn’t fly there and as a result the triple-slash line in 2022 has been .222/.302/.323. That’s a .626 OPS (when rounding up it’s .626). The youngest every day player in the league, De La Cruz had an OPS that was 187 points better than the league average.
GRACIAS @ellylacocoa18 por tu entrega, tu pasión, tu forma de jugar el juego y la manera en que representaste nuestras cinco letras. Deseamos lo mejor para ti y esperamos verte brillar en el béisbol de Grandes Ligas. ¡Te vamos a extrañar! ??
¡MIL GRACIAS COCOA! ?? pic.twitter.com/aUULYAW4Dv
— Tigres del Licey (@TigresdelLicey) November 19, 2022
There were plenty of highlight for the 25 games worth of a season that Elly De La Cruz played, including when he became just the 12th player to hit a home run over the wall in center at the home ballpark for Licey that’s existed since 1956.
The .813 OPS for Elly De La Cruz is the highest OPS by a rookie for Licey in their history according to the stats provided by Winterball Data. Luis Castillo – no, not that one – had an OPS of .805 back in 1997 as a 22-year-old. They are the only two rookies for Licey to ever top the .800 OPS mark.