Q&A: Meet the Reds' top prospect, Elly De La Cruz

March 24th, 2023

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Amid the myriad pieces of shiny jewelry worn on the field by the Reds' top prospect, , is a medallion that features a photo of the shortstop's family.

"It’s because I do it for them. I do it for my people," De La Cruz said via translator Jorge Merlos.

At the center of that universe off the field is De La Cruz's mother, Carmen.

"Really, besides baseball, it’s totally going to be my family and my mother," said De La Cruz, who resides in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. "They really inspired me to become the person I am today."

Ranked the No. 10 prospect overall by MLB Pipeline, the 21-year-old De La Cruz was among Spring Training cuts when he was optioned to Triple-A Louisville on March 14. Although there were flashes of excitement in his play that shows why he's an exciting prospect, he also demonstrated there is still some seasoning needed.

In 12 games, De La Cruz was 5-for-25 (.200) with one home run, two triples and five RBIs. He also struck out nine times with two walks.

A five-tool talent, De La Cruz batted .304 with a .945 OPS, 28 home runs and 47 stolen bases in 120 games at High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga last season. Jose Barrero and Kevin Newman are slated to be the big league shortstops this season, but De La Cruz will be waiting in the wings for his chance as he continues developing.

Earlier this week, De La Cruz did a Q&A with MLB.com. Here is a sample of the discussion (with the full conversation at the video atop this page):

What was he told to work on when being sent down?
"Not much, besides 'you have to keep up your work consistently, that’s how you’re going to get up here,'" De La Cruz said.

On his joy for playing baseball:
"Ever since I was little, I’ve always just loved playing the game," he said. "Back in the streets, we would play with little tennis balls and other different kinds of balls. It’s kind of makeshift like it’s baseball. Ever since I picked up a ball, I really liked it. Basketball was also a really big passion for me, it came before baseball. But baseball is really my sport.

"When I cross the lines out there and get into position, I feel like I am at home."

Would De La Cruz keep wearing No. 44 if and when he is called up to the big leagues?
Although several players have worn No. 44 over the years, it's most closely associated with former Reds outfield great Eric Davis. Reds clubhouse manager Rick Stowe seemed to have that in mind when he assigned the number to De La Cruz, who has worked with Davis in the Minor Leagues and Spring Training.

“I have so much admiration," De La Cruz said of Davis. "Just to be in his presence is amazing. He’s given me so much advice, especially out here when I’m stealing bases. He’s given me all these tips and now I just don’t get caught stealing anymore.”