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The Cincinnati Reds currently lead the NL Central. They won 12 consecutive games before losing to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday and then lost again on Sunday. Despite the back-to-back defeats, they remain firmly in playoff position. And, a major reason why is the emergence of rookie Elly De La Cruz.
The Reds finally called the top prospect up to Cincinnati on June 6.
Going into that night’s contest against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Reds were 28-33. The team sat 5.5 games back in the division race.
Since then, though, the team has gone on a tear. Over their last 18 games since the De La Cruz call-up, the Reds are 14-4. They went from 5.5 games back to leading the division by a half-game.
And future Hall of Famer Joey Votto — who himself just recently returned to the Reds lineup — believes that Elly De La Cruz is the complete package. Though, his comparison for the rookie is QUITE lofty.
“He’s the best runner I’ve ever seen; he has the most power I’ve ever seen; and, he has the strongest arm I’ve ever seen,” Votto said, according to USA Today.
“He has a chance to be something spectacular. The only comp I can think of is Mickey Mantle. A young Mickey Mantle.”
Whoa. Talk about high expectations.
Mantle was a three-time league MVP for the New York Yankees who finished in the Top 5 of MVP voting nine times. He was an All-Star in 16 of his 18 MLB seasons.
Perhaps most importantly, he won seven World Series rings.
Cincinnati Reds fans aren’t THAT greedy. If Elly De La Cruz can help deliver ONE World Series ring, fans would immediately erect a statue.
The team hasn’t won a world championship since 1990, now over 30 years and counting. Hell, if De La Cruz can help the Reds win a playoff series — something the team hasn’t done since 1995 — they might throw the kid a parade on Market Street.
Obviously, it’s going to take a full team effort for the Cincinnati Reds to reach the playoffs and make some noise.
But having a young Mickey Mantle on the roster can’t hurt.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak