Ready for Futures Game? De La Cruz leaves no doubt

July 8th, 2022

That’s how you celebrate being named to the 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.

Reds No. 2 prospect Elly De La Cruz did so with a monster day at High-A Dayton on Thursday, homering thrice in the club’s split doubleheader hours after being named to the upcoming annual prospect showcase. De La Cruz homered from both sides of the plate in the Dragons’ 7-3 Game 1 loss, then he added a solo shot in their 5-0 nightcap win, finishing 4-for-6 with a walk on the day.

“That felt very, very good,” De La Cruz said via an interpreter. “It’s the best feeling ever to hit a home run from both sides. It’s an emotion that’s hard to explain. But it’s a good emotion.”

The switch-hitter clocked his first homer of the day lefty and the next two right-handed, including once in each game. In the process, he achieved his first multihomer game since debuting in affiliated ball last summer. He also tripled his season output of right-handed homers, hitting two of his three on the season on Thursday. The game’s No. 50 prospect has 18 homers in 69 games for the Dragons this year.

"The aspect I’ve improved most on is with my right-handed swing,” De La Cruz said. “I feel more comfortable now. [Fine-tuning] that is the next step … today was an improvement.”

Soon, De La Cruz will be showcasing that development on the national stage. The seven-inning American vs. National League Futures Game will take place at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, July 16, at 7 p.m. ET/4 PT. It will be broadcast live on Peacock and SiriusXM, with MLB Network producing the telecast and re-airing the game at 9 a.m. ET on Sunday.

When Major League Baseball revealed the rosters Thursday for this year’s game, 31 of 50 players were ranked on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list, including De La Cruz. Reds No. 12 prospect Andrew Abbott also made the game.

“It’s an All-Star Game, so you got to enjoy it, and I’m going to enjoy every bit of it,” De La Cruz said. “I’m very proud of myself and the work I’ve been doing, all my work to this moment. I’m very proud for accomplishing that and very happy, very happy.”

It should be a coming-out party for the 20-year-old infielder, whose prospect status has risen meteorically since signing with the Reds for a modest $65,000 bonus during the the 2018-19 international period. De La Cruz made huge improvements during the cancelled 2020 season and burst onto the prospect scene in ’21, hitting .296 with a .874 OPS across Rookie ball and Class A.

He’s showed no signs of slowing down this season at High-A Dayton, simply dominating to the tune of a .302 average, 18 homers, 50 RBIs, 26 stolen bases and a .954 OPS. De La Cruz is hitting .322 with 10 homers since June 1 at High-A, where he is nearly 2 1/2 years younger than the average player.

Everything about De La Cruz is loud, from his tools to his build and athleticism and how he impacts the baseball. He’s bigger than he’s listed at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, with plus speed, plus arm strength, the chance to stick at shortstop and the ability to hit from both sides of the plate. Throw in how he’s clearly tapping into his considerable raw power, and that’s the makings of a potential five-tool player for Cincinnati.

“I always knew I was good, but last year I saw the progression,” De La Cruz said. “That’s when I noticed I was moving in the right direction, that was the turning point.”

Soon, everyone else will know it too, when De La Cruz takes the field alongside baseball’s stars of tomorrow in Los Angeles.