De La Cruz exceeds sky-high expectations in first six games with Reds

Reds have won two series since promotion of top prospect

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Elly De La Cruz displayed the same talent he showed in the minor leagues in his first six games in the big leagues. In fact, he was even better.

“Sometimes you’ve got to make more adjustments, but it’s pretty much the same game,” De La Cruz told reporters in St. Louis on Sunday.

De La Cruz hit .364 (8 for 22) with a .482 on-base percentage, seven runs scored, four RBIs and three stolen bases while leading the Cincinnati Reds to series victories against the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals and a 4-2 record. He hit .298 and with a .398 on-base percentage with the Triple-A Louisville Bats. The Reds (31-35) continued their nine-game road trip Monday against the Kansas City Royals.

It’s a small sample size for De La Cruz so far at the Major League Baseball level, but he has energized his new team with his play.

In the field, De La Cruz started four games at third base and two at shortstop. He handled 14 chances without an error. At the plate and on the bases, he impacted the games in numerous ways. Here’s a breakdown of all those plays:

• After being promoted on Tuesday, De La Cruz walked in his first at-bat against the Dodgers and scored on a single by Tyler Stephenson.

• De La Cruz doubled in his second at-bat but was left stranded at second. The Reds won 9-8 on a walk-off RBI single by another rookie, Matt McLain.

• On Wednesday, De La Cruz hit a two-run home run in the first inning. The ball landed in the top row of the right-field stands and measured 458 feet.

• In the third, De La Cruz tripled and scored on a single by Spencer Steer. The Reds won 8-6 on a walk-off home run by Will Benson.

• On Thursday in a 6-0 loss to the Dodgers, De La Cruz recorded his first career single in the first inning and then stole a base for the first time at the big-league level.

De La Cruz became the second big-league player since 2000 to record a single, double, triple, home run and a stolen base in his first three appearances, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The other was Bill Bruton, of the Milwaukee Braves, in 1953.

• After striking out in his last three at-bats Thursday, De La Cruz struck out in his first three at-bats Friday in St. Louis before reaching on an infield single in the eighth. He scored on a double by Stuart Fairchild. The Reds lost the series opener 7-4.

• On Saturday in an 8-4 victory against the Cardinals, De La Cruz singled in the third inning to drive in McLain.

• In the fifth inning, De La Cruz walked, stole second and advanced to third on a groundout but was stranded there.

• De La Cruz reached on a fielder’s choice groundout to the pitcher in the seventh and scored from first on a double by Steer. He ran through the stop sign at third and managed to avoid the tag at home with a head-first slide, stretching out his left hand to touch the plate.

• In a 4-3 victory Sunday, De La Cruz went 2-for-3 with two walks. He reached on an infield single in the first, sprinting to beat the throw from first baseman Brendon Donovan to pitcher Adam Wainwright.

• In the third, De La Cruz singled to center with two outs to drive in Curt Casali.

• In the sixth with the Reds trailing 3-2, De La Cruz walked, stole second, moved to third on a fly ball by Steer and scored on a single by Stephenson.

• In the eighth, De La Cruz walked again, moved to second on a groundout by Steer and reached third on a passed ball. He then scored the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice groundout to shortstop by Stephenson. The throw came home but was to the right of the plate. De La Cruz beat the tag with another headfirst slide.

De La Cruz walked five times in his first six games.

“I just know whenever they’re not going to pitch to me, that gives me an opportunity to contribute when I’m on base,” he said. “There’s a good chance when I’m on base I’m going to be able to score.”

“That run was all speed, there’s no question about it,” manager David Bell said. “It’s just a different level of speed. To be able to beat that play, going on contact there on a solid-hit ball against a really good shortstop with a good arm, he just outran the throw. It’s pretty incredible.”


Reds at Royals, 8:10 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410

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