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The future is here in Cincinnati. The Reds called up top prospect Elly De La Cruz on Tuesday. Cincinnati is batting him cleanup on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He becomes the youngest player (21 years, 146 days) to bat cleanup in his Major League debut since Andres Mora in 1976.
Where he plays defensively is still a question, however. De La Cruz is a shortstop and a very good one. But the Reds have another former top prospect, Matt McClain, playing the position. McClain could slide to second base — which he did at Louisville, Cincinnati’s Triple-A team — but that displaces Jonathan India.
Noted Cincinnati Reds fan and college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit balked at the notion of moving India out of position to accomodate two rookies. He got into it on Twitter with a pair of baseball writers over it, too.
For his debut, De La Cruz is slated to play third base, leaving McClain and India to remain in their current spots. It remains to be seen if that’s the plan they stick with long-term.
De La Cruz is one of, if not the, best prospects in all of baseball. He’s a legitimate five-tool player that has posted some of the most ridiculous advanced metrics in all of baseball — not just the minor leagues.
Cincinnati Reds call up top prospect Elly De La Cruz
Check out some of the stats that MLB.com reported on De La Cruz:
“He has connected for the hardest-hit ball in all of professional baseball this year, with an exit velocity of 118.8 mph recorded by Statcast. Overall in that same game, he hit three balls over 116 mph.
“In early May, De La Cruz was playing third base for Louisville when he uncorked a 99.2 mph throw to first base – the hardest recorded throw at the time in Triple-A or the Major Leagues.
“On June 2, De La Cruz’s 10.97-second sprint from home plate to third base tied him for the quickest trip from home to third tracked at the Major League level in 2023.”
He’s 6’5″ and hits for average (.298 at Triple-A) and power (12 HR, .633 slugging). He steals bases (11). There’s nothing he cannot do on a baseball field.
His call-up comes at a good time for the surprising Cincinnati Reds. Expected to be one of the worst teams in MLB this season, Cincinnati sits just 5.5 games back in the NL Central. And that’s despite some of the worst ownership in professional sports.
But, they’ve lost four of their past five games. They’ve scored 2 or fewer runs in three of those five. The team needs a shot in the arm, and De La Cruz certainly represents that.
The Reds are a young, cheap team. When they take the field on Tuesday against the Dodgers, the highest-paid player on the field is likely to be Kevin Newman. Newman earns just $2.6 million in salary this season.
Of the 25 players on their active roster, 22 will earn less than $2 million this year.
The Reds are a young team that just got a little bit younger.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak