Elly De La Cruz has quickly turned himself into a must-see event, and his latest act did not disappoint.
It's the second time in three days that the 20-year-old has gone yard from both sides of the plate in the same game. No Dayton player had connected on home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game since 2010, when Henry Rodriguez accomplished the feat.
De La Cruz became just the third player in Dragons history to reach 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season, joining Wily Mo Pena in 2001 and Jose Siri in 2017. De La Cruz reached that milestone in just 71 games. He has also been flexing at the plate of late -- clubbing five dingers in his past four games for Dayton.
MLB.com's newly minted No. 50 overall prospect crushed a 1-1 fastball from the left side of the plate over the wall in right-center in the fourth inning for a solo blast. The home run put the Dragons on the board and pulled De La Cruz into a tie atop the home run race in the Midwest League with his 19th of the year.
Two frames later, with Dayton trailing 2-1, the native of Dominican Republic stepped in against lefty Gabriel Sequeira from the right side. After jumping ahead 2-0, De La Cruz demolished another fastball, this time sending it 345 feet to left-center. The jack not only tied the game but officially paced the circuit at 20.
In his final at-bat in the eighth, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound infielder was intentionally walked with two outs and the tying run in scoring position.
It would be hard to find a prospect who has gone from unknown quantity to Top 100 more rapidly than De La Cruz. He has the chance to be a true five-tool player. He showed off bat speed and athleticism in the Dominican Summer League, but added strength was the huge contributor to his explosion on the scene in the U.S. He can swing it from both sides of the plate, with power, looking a little more comfortable from the left side. He first showed flashes of his ability to tap into his considerable raw power in 2021, with some believing he might eventually be a plus hitter with plus power.
While De La Cruz may actually be bigger than his listed height and weight, there is little doubt he can play shortstop, with a plus arm and above-average defensive actions. He can play third and has the athleticism to play center field as well. As loud as his tools are, his makeup, feel for the game and passion while playing it all give him the chance to maximize those tools in terms of performance -- putting him on the fast track to become a versatile and valuable contributor in Cincinnati.