Elly's newest feat? The fastest-tracked infield assist

July 17th, 2023

CINCINNATI -- Even on a routine ground ball, can do something both unique and eye-opening. In Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Brewers, the Reds' rookie third baseman notched Statcast's fastest-tracked infield assist at 97.9 mph.

De La Cruz took a step to his left and fielded a sharp grounder hit by leadoff batter Joey Wiemer with an exit velocity of 91.3 mph. With Wiemer motoring fast up the line, at 29.5 feet per second, De La Cruz took four steps before he fired a dart from the back of the infield dirt to first baseman Spencer Steer.

"Insane," Brewers pitcher Adrian Houser said.

The 97.9 mph throw was the fastest-tracked infield assist since Statcast began recording such data in 2015. The previous high speed in the big leagues was from Oneil Cruz of the Pirates against the Marlins on July 14, 2022.

“I’ll be honest, it didn’t feel any harder than the other ones he threw. But it’s pretty cool. He's got a cannon," Steer said.

Fastest-tracked infield assists under Statcast (since 2015):
Today, Elly De La Cruz: 97.9 mph
July 14, 2022, Oneil Cruz: 97.8 mph
Sept. 20, 2020, Fernando Tatis Jr.: 97.3 mph
Sept. 18, 2021, Fernando Tatis Jr.: 96.8 mph
June 20, 2022, Oneil Cruz: 96.7 mph

However, it wasn't De La Cruz's fastest-tracked assist this year.

In May for Triple-A Louisville, De La Cruz made a 99.2 mph throw to first base for an out.

Does a throw from De La Cruz feel any different than ones from other fielders?

"I don’t really notice it too much," Steer said. "I’m just focused on getting to the bag and catching the ball. His balls got some really good carry on it. Some guys, that throw might die on them a little bit."

Although De La Cruz is 1-for-16 with six strikeouts over his last four games vs. Milwaukee, including going 0-for-12 in the three-game series sweep, his season has already been dotted with spectacular moments only 33 games into his Major League career.

  • In his second Major League game, De La Cruz slugged his first home run vs. the Dodgers on June 7. It traveled an estimated 458 feet and nearly left Great American Ball Park completely. It left his bat at 114.8 mph, making it the second-hardest-hit ball by a batter for his first home run in the Statcast era.
  • In De La Cruz's 15th game on June 23 against the Braves, the 21-year-old hit for the cycle, becoming the first Reds player do so since Eric Davis in 1989.
  • On July 8 at Milwaukee, De La Cruz pulled off his most dazzling feat yet by stealing second base, third base and home in the same inning.

The Brewers felt good about containing De La Cruz during the weekend.

"It's huge," Houser said. "He has straight energy over there for them. He gets the team going. It was good to mix it up and keep him off balance."