EDLC smashes three hits above 116 -- including hardest of year

May 10th, 2023

Every time Triple-A Louisville plays, does something extraordinary, and his secret to it all is sleep, lots of it.

The No. 8 prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline made the fastest infield throw (99.2 mph) of any Triple-A or MLB player this year on Friday. He followed that up Saturday by slugging a 116.3 mph moonshot, the second hardest-hit home run in Triple-A in 2023 at the time. 

Now onto the newest edition of “Are we sure Elly is actually from this planet?” The switch-hitting 21-year-old went 3-for-4 with a jack from each side of the plate and a double Tuesday night for the Bats. He hit all three over 116 mph, an achievement that has never been reached by an MLB team in a single game in the Statcast Era (since 2015).

Forget about teams, De La Cruz did it on his own. The last time a team got close to that was April 27, 2021. On that day, the Yankees' Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton collected two hits coming in at 116.2 mph and 119.3 mph respectively.

Judge – 6-foot-9 282 pounds -- and Stanton – 6-foot-6 245 pounds -- are physical specimens. De La Cruz, a twitchy switch-hitter with effortless pop, measures in at significantly lighter 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds even.

“I didn’t know that,” De La Cruz said excitedly through Bats hitting coach Alex Pelaez. “I’m very happy to do that, I’m going to keep working.”

Louisville took down Columbus, 10-9, on the back of a massive night of the Reds' top prospect, one in which he got to be the walk-off hero as well by putting the bat aside.

According to Statcast, De La Cruz pulverized every one of his hits:
3rd-inning double: 118.8 mph
5th-inning home run: 116.6 mph
6th-inning home run: 117.1 mph

After walking in his first at-bat, De La Cruz got Louisville on the board in the third. Batting from the right side, he laced a double off left-handed Guardians prospect Adam Scott, plating center fielder Will Benson to make the score 5-1.

The next two at-bats for the Louisville infielder were both long balls. Very long balls, to be specific. He crushed the first tater in the fifth off right-hander Luis Oviedo, destroying a ball 456 feet to center field. The next was in the following inning, this time from the other side of the plate. Facing lefty Phillip Diehl, De La Cruz smacked another roundtripper 428 feet into the stratosphere.

The pair of homers reduced the Clippers lead to 9-6.

By the bottom of the ninth, the score was tied. As an opposing pitcher, who would you least like to see come to the plate with the bases loaded in that scenario? The Dominican native, of course. Righty Jason Bilous walked De La Cruz on four pitches to send Louisville -- the team and its fans into a frenzy.

“I went up there looking for my pitch,” he said. “I knew they were not going to give me anything and that is what they did. They worked around me and never gave me the pitch to swing at.”

Since returning from a hamstring injury on April 20, De La Cruz has been raking. He sports a .284 average and .929 OPS over his first 16 games of the season.

After another day in which he proved to be must-see TV, De La Cruz only had one plan postgame.

“Now I can sleep too much,” he said.