New phenom hits like Judge, runs like Trea, throws like no other

June 8th, 2023

The Reds called up to make his MLB debut Tuesday, and he was immediately electric. His follow-up act on Wednesday was even more spectacular -- in fact, it was downright "freaky," in the words of teammate Will Benson.

After three days in the Majors, De La Cruz has the Reds' two hardest-hit balls of the year, their longest home run and the fastest triple of the MLB season. 

That's no surprise based on what Cincinnati's top prospect did in the Minors. We have all the Statcast data on De La Cruz from Triple-A Louisville, and ... wow. Get ready for a show now that he's in the big leagues.

Here are nine ridiculous feats the 21-year-old slugging infielder has already pulled off this season in the Majors and Minors.

1) His monster first career HR 

De La Cruz's first MLB homer came in his second game, and it was a ridiculous moonshot: 114.8 mph off the bat with a projected distance of 458 feet to the very back of the bleachers at Great American Ball Park.

That's not just the Reds' longest home run and hardest-hit ball of the year -- it's their hardest-hit ball in the last four seasons. You have to go back to 2019 to find a harder batted ball from a Cincinnati player.

It's also the second-hardest first career home run for any player under Statcast tracking, which goes back to 2015. Only Jake Burger's first career homer in 2021 was harder than De La Cruz's.

Hardest 1st career HR under Statcast tracking

  1. Jake Burger: 115.2 mph, 7/17/21

2) De La Cruz: 114.8 mph, 6/7/23 
3) Jorge Alfaro: 114.2 mph, 8/15/17 
4) (tie) Luke Raley: 113.5 mph, 4/16/21 
4) (tie) Bobby Bradley: 113.5 mph, 7/13/19

2) The fastest triple of 2023

De La Cruz has an elite power/speed combo. In the same game that he launched his first career homer, he legged out his first career triple. And it was the fastest triple of the year by any player.

De La Cruz went from home to third in just 10.83 seconds, the fastest home-to-third time this season in the Majors or Minors.

The player whose mark he broke? Himself. De La Cruz went home to third in 10.97 seconds on a single and two-base error at Triple-A on June 2, which was tied for the previous fastest home-to-third time at any level this season with Corbin Carroll's triple for the D-backs on April 25.

3) Elite sprint speeds in every big league game

On his first triple, De La Cruz reached a top sprint speed of 30.9 feet per second. That's well above the threshold for elite MLB speed, 30 ft/sec. 

De La Cruz has had at least one run at that elite 30-plus ft/sec speed in every MLB game he's played so far. 

  • In his debut, he ripped a 112 mph double for his first career hit and reached a sprint speed of 30.4 ft/sec on his way to second base
  • In his second game, there was the 30.9 ft/sec triple 
  • And in his third game on Thursday, De La Cruz beat out an infield single with a sprint speed of 30.9 ft/sec

He also came right up against the 30 ft/sec threshold on his first career stolen base Thursday, when he reached a sprint speed of 29.6 ft/sec.

And he's been posting elite sprint speeds in the Minors all year. On his 10.97-second home-to-third run, for example, De La Cruz had a 31 ft/sec sprint speed.

4) 115+ mph HRs from both sides of the plate in the same game

Let's get to some of the crazy things De La Cruz did at Louisville before he got to the big leagues. This one might be the craziest.

De La Cruz is a switch-hitter, and he absolutely crushes the ball from both sides of the plate. On May 9, he ripped a 116.6 mph home run batting left-handed … and a 117.1 mph home run batting right-handed ... in the same game.

Not one single Major League hitter in the entire Statcast era, which goes back to 2015, has ever hit the ball 115-plus mph from both sides of the plate in the same game -- let alone for a pair of home runs.

5) Three 116+ mph extra-base hits … in that same game

Those two switch-hitting home runs weren't the only damage De La Cruz did on May 9. He also ripped a 118.8 mph double in that same game, to go along with the 116.6 mph and 117.1 mph homers.

No MLB player under Statcast tracking has ever hit three balls 116 mph or harder in the same game … let alone three 116+ mph extra-base hits. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are the only players who have even had multiple 116-plus mph batted balls in a game.

In fact, no MLB team has hit three balls 116-plus mph in the same game under Statcast tracking. De La Cruz did it all by himself.

6) The hardest-hit ball and HR in the Minors all year

Not to harp on one game too much, but oh-by-the-way: The 118.8 mph double is the hardest-hit ball in the Minor Leagues all year.

Not only that, it's harder than any ball any Reds player has hit since Statcast started tracking. Aristides Aquino holds the team record for exit velocity since 2015, with the 118.3 mph home run he hit on Aug. 8, 2019. (That's the last time a Reds player hit a ball harder than Cruz's 114.8 mph home run on Wednesday.)

De La Cruz also has the hardest home run hit in the Minors all year: a 117.7 mph, 450-foot shot he hit on May 25.

Only three Major League sluggers have hit a harder home run this season -- Matt Olson (118.6 mph), Jake Burger (118.2 mph) and Stanton (117.8 mph).

7) Five 116+ mph HRs this season

In two months of the Minor League season, De La Cruz hit a whopping five home runs 116 mph or harder -- plus a sixth over 114 mph.

For a full Major League season under Statcast tracking, the record for 116-plus mph homers is seven, by Judge in 2017. De La Cruz's five would be tied for second-most in a full year, with Shohei Ohtani in 2021 and Stanton in 2021 and 2018.

Thanks to those rockets, De La Cruz has five of the six hardest homers in the Minors this season.

Hardest HR in the Minors in 2023

  1. De La Cruz: 117.7 mph, May 25
  2. De La Cruz: 117.1 mph, May 9
  3. Jhailyn Ortiz (Phillies): 117.0 mph, April 19
  4. De La Cruz: 116.6 mph, May 9
  5. De La Cruz: 116.3 mph (2x), May 6 and 25

8) A 100 mph throw … from the infield

De La Cruz has elite arm strength, too. Besides the hardest-hit ball and the hardest home run of the Minor League season, he also has the hardest tracked infield throw.

That throw, on May 12, clocked in at 100.2 mph. Yes, triple digits from third base across the diamond.

No infielder has a 100 mph throw in an MLB game tracked by Statcast … yet.

9) Multiple 99 mph assists

De La Cruz's 100 mph throw actually pulled his first baseman slightly off the bag, so he didn't get the out there. Not to worry. He's gotten multiple outs this season on throws at 99-plus mph.

De La Cruz has one 99 mph infield assist as a shortstop (99.1 mph on May 17) and one 99 mph assist as a third baseman (99.2 mph on May 5).

Both of those would be a record for arm strength on an infield assist in a Major League game under Statcast tracking. Oneil Cruz currently holds that mark with a 97.8 mph assist from shortstop on July 14, 2022.