De La Cruz standing out 'in a really good way'

February 24th, 2023

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There are 67 players at Reds camp, but it's not hard for shortstop prospect Elly De La Cruz to stand out. The 21-year-old De La Cruz is one of the tallest position players on hand, and he could easily be the fastest, as he covers ground quickly while running the bases or during rundown drills.

De La Cruz, who is ranked as the No. 10 overall prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, has performed well so far during defensive drills and his other work.

"You watch him, he stands out. I think that’s obvious," Reds manager David Bell said on Friday. "Just for a player at his age in his first Major League camp, he stands out in a really good way."

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.

and are the frontrunners for the starting shortstop spot, but this camp will be an opportunity for the club to get a long look at De La Cruz.

"He’s working hard. I think that’s part of it too, making sure he understands what it takes to compete here," Bell said. "He’s come a long way in a few years, so he’s had to learn what it takes. He’s not starting from scratch. It’s a different level, [the] Major League level, you’re around other Major League players that have been here for a while. He's taking it all in. That’s where my focus is for Elly because everything else is just happening for him."

More items from camp on Friday

• Starting pitchers and have both looked good during their live batting practice sessions working against Reds hitters. Both starters are considered right on track.

"Actually, you can see that they've gotten better from last year," Bell said. "I know it's really early, but the progress you like to see, we've already seen that. The exciting part of that is that they're not trying to impress or anything like that, it's just kind of where they are in their process."

• Another pitcher who has looked sharp in live BPs is left-handed prospect Brandon Williamson. Ranked No. 6 in the organization by MLB Pipeline at the end of 2022, Williamson will get the ball to start on Saturday, when the Reds face the Guardians in the Cactus League opener at Goodyear Ballpark. First pitch is at 3:05 p.m. ET.

"It's important not to make too much of the live BPs or anything this early, but he's checking all the boxes," Bell said.

• The entire club was gathered on a back practice field for the annual "27 outs" drill that covers myriad defensive situations called out by bench coach Freddie Benavides. The goal is to notch 27 consecutive outs without an error. If there's an error, the count returns to zero. One of the final outs was a perfect relay from center field by to De La Cruz and then to the plate for an out.

• Former starting pitcher Mike Leake, who pitched for the Reds from 2010-15, visited camp on Friday morning with his family. The only teammate from Leake's playing days who remains on the club is .

• The Reds announced Friday that they renewed 700 WLW-AM as the flagship station for the Reds Radio Network through the 2027 season. WLW aired the first radio broadcast of a Reds game in 1924 and has been the team's flagship since 1969.