Tuesday night, Cincinnati Reds wunderkind Elly De La Cruz made his big-league debut, and going 1 for 3 with two walks against the Los Angeles Dodgers. and a budding superstar thanks to his freakish combination of power and speed.
On Wednesday, De La Cruz hit his first big league home run against Dodgers righty Noah Syndergaard (CIN 8, LAD 6), and it was an absolute bomb: 458 feet and 114.8 mph off the bat. He very nearly hit it out of Great American Ball Park. The ball landed in the last row of the left field stands.
Check it out:
The 458-homer is the longest by a Red since Joey Votto hit a 466-footer on Sept. 27, 2021, and is the sixth longest by a Reds player in the Statcast era (since 2015). The 114.8 mph exit velocity is the second hardest by a Reds player in the Statcast era -- Aristides Aquino hit a ball 118.3 mph on Aug. 8, 2018. De La Cruz is already hitting balls like few recent Reds have.
Two innings after his first big league homer, De La Cruz blasted his first career triple, also off Syndergaard. You've already seen the power. Now here's the speed:
De La Cruz, who is officially listed at 6-feet-5 and 200 pounds, went home to third in 10.83 seconds, according to Statcast. It is the fastest home-to-third time in the majors this season, narrowly edging out Arizona Diamondbacks phenom Corbin Carroll (10.97 seconds). De La Cruz is simply a marvel. So much power, so much speed, so much electricity in this game.
Since returning from a hamstring injury in late April, the switch-hitting De La Cruz pummeled Triple-A pitching and produced some of the loudest contact that organized baseball will see all year. Lest that read like hyperbole, his feats of strength so far this season include more than a handful of batted balls with exit velocities north of 115 mph.
De La Cruz has elite power, in other words, as well as near-elite speed. (In one game this season, he stole third base without a throw when a catcher made a lackadaisical return toss to the pitcher.) Scouts have warmed up to De La Cruz remaining at shortstop, but they haven't yet gotten over his swing-and-miss tendencies, particularly against left-handed pitching. There's a fair chance that he ends up being a nominal switch-hitter who does most of his damage versus righties. That's fine, all things considered, since De La Cruz still has one of the highest ceilings in baseball.
De La Cruz, a natural shortstop, made his MLB debut at third base in deference to shortstop Matt McLain, who himself is a highly regarded prospect. De La Cruz played shortstop Wednesday with McLain at DH. How the Reds juggle their positions and playing time remains to be seen, but De La Cruz and McLain are the future of the lineup, and will play every game.
The Reds are 29-33 after Wednesday's 8-6 victory. They're only five games out in the NL Central and four games out of the third and final National League wild-card spot. In addition to De La Cruz and McLain, Cincinnati also recently called up touted lefties Andrew Abbott and Brandon Williamson.