Last night was the first game of the year for Cincinnati Reds top prospect, and the #1 prospect in all of baseball according to some, Elly De La Cruz. After dealing with a hamstring injury that he suffered about a month ago in Arizona during spring training, De La Cruz arrived in Louisville to join the Triple-A club. He was inserted into the Bats lineup at shortstop and the #2 spot.
In his season debut Elly De La Cruz went 1-5 with two strikeouts. When he made contact the other three times he hit the ball hard. He doubled on a ground ball at 108.7 MPH off of the bat – though it was a hustle double that many players wouldn’t have gotten.
The other two batted balls were also over 100 MPH, coming in at 100.4 and 101.5 MPH. The final one was a lineout to the center fielder. Following the double he was caught stealing third base, but I’ll contend that the replay showed he was safe and the umpire blew the call.
With De La Cruz arriving in Louisville it meant that at least for Thursday, Matt McLain slid over to second base. It didn’t mess with his offense at all as he continued to tear the cover off of the ball. McLain went 2-2, walked twice, homered for the 5th time on the season, drove in two runs, and he scored two runs.
McLain went through a bit of a slump after the first week of the season, but he’s been on a tear ever since and through 17 games he’s now hitting .276/.417/.603 with four doubles, five home runs, six steals (though he’s been caught four times), 12 walks, and 17 strikeouts in his 72 plate appearances. He’s making more contact this season, striking out just 23.6% of the time (28.1% last year). That’s helped him hit for a higher average so far, and he’s showing more power this season, too.
Connor Phillips makes them miss
In Chattanooga it’s been Andrew Abbott catching all of the attention. And that’s for good reason, too, because Abbott has been hilariously dominant to start the season. But entering the season it was Connor Phillips who was the top pitching prospect on the team – and at some publications in the entire Reds organization. Last night he flashed why that was.
Phillips was dominant in his first start of the year, giving up just one hit and striking out seven batters in 4.0 innings against Rocket City, but struggled the next time out as he allowed three home runs and five earned runs in 4.0 innings to go with three walks and five strikeouts. The 21-year-old rebounded well last night against Tennessee, giving up just one run in 5.0 innings on 88 pitches. Phillips struck out 11 batters and had just one walk. He now has 23 strikeouts in 13.0 innings (40.4% strikeout rate).
For Phillips it was his first double-digit strikeout game in Double-A. It was his 15th start with the Lookouts after being promoted there last summer on July 1st.
When CEH is healthy, and Abbott gets promoted, boy are the Louisville Bats gonna be fun to watch.
I may have said this before but through 2.1 innings Jacob Heatherly has 8 K’s. That’s 7 batters retired and 8 K’s. Don’t see that often.
I watched him the other night. His control was way off, walking the bases loaded then walking in the winning run in extra innings. But, he was still throwing 95-96 and showing a big breaking ball. So, yeah, definitely very exciting.
Everyone is looking at ELLY but McClain can rake! Watch out Senzel.