Prospect De La Cruz could be 5-tool talent

CINCINNATI — In a short period of time with the Reds organization, infielder Elly De La Cruz went from relative obscurity to an elite and coveted prospect.

At only 19 and playing in the United States for the first time during the 2021 season, De La Cruz made a big impression.

“He’s a big tool guy with a big motor and high intelligent character,” Reds vice president of player development Shawn Pender said. “He’s very projectable physically but he’s still growing. He’s still filling out. Great bat speed. Like [shortstop prospect Matt] McLain, he’s got a great motor. He loves to play, he’s a good teammate. He’s smart as hell with exciting, difference-making tools.”

Cincinnati’s international scouting department signed De La Cruz out of the Dominican Republic in 2018 for $65,000 but didn’t fully grasp his potential at the time. He spent his first pro season — 2019 — in the Dominican Summer League.

Now De La Cruz is viewed as a likely five-tool talent.

A switch-hitter who is ranked No. 8 in the organization by MLB Pipeline, De La Cruz had a superlative two-plus-week stretch in the Arizona Complex League while batting .400 with a 1.235 OPS and three home runs in 11 games.

After moving up to Low-A Daytona, De La Cruz held his own well as he batted .269/.305/.477 with five homers, 12 doubles, seven triples and 29 RBIs in 50 games. He walked 10 times but…

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