Dragons’ De La Cruz promoted to Chattanooga

Elly De La Cruz enjoyed one of the best half seasons in Dayton Dragons history before getting called up to Class AA Chattanooga. CONTRiBUTED/Jeff Gilbert

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Elly De La Cruz enjoyed one of the best half seasons in Dayton Dragons history before getting called up to Class AA Chattanooga. CONTRiBUTED/Jeff Gilbert

Reds top prospect moving up to Class AA

The Cincinnati Reds promoted Dayton Dragons shortstop and top minor-league prospect Elly De La Cruz to Class AA Chattanooga on Wednesday.

De La Cruz, fresh off an appearance in the Futures Game in Los Angeles, will join the Lookouts for Friday’s game in Chattanooga against the Tennessee Smokies.

De La Cruz’s rise on the prospect lists from unknown before his breakout 2021 season at Low-A Daytona to now is rare. The 20-year-old has grown to 6-foot-5 and at least 200 pounds, shown home run power rarely seen in Dayton and is considered a five-tool player (speed, throwing, fielding, hitting for average, hitting for power.)

In the updated midseason rankings, De La Cruz is rated as high as the No. 9 overall prospect by Baseball Prospectus. He is rated 21st by Baseball America and 49th by MLB Pipeline. He is rated the Reds’ No. 1 prospect by Baseball America and No. 2 by MLB Pipeline behind starting pitcher Nick Lodolo, who is in the Reds’ starting rotation.

De La Cruz appeared in 71 games for the Dragons and became the third Dragon to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season, finishing with 20 homers and 28 stolen bases. He is the only 20-20 player in pro ball this season and was on pace to shatter the Dragons’ single-season home run record of 28 set by Samone Peters in 2001.

De La Cruz was particularly stellar in his final 39 games (since May 25) with Dayton, batting .333 with 14 home runs and 29 RBIs. His slugging percentage since May 25 (.706) is second in the minors. For the year, De La Cruz leads the Midwest League in slugging percentage (.609) and is tied for the league lead in home runs while ranking in the top four in OPS (.968), RBIs (52), batting average (.302), hits (85), runs (53), extra base hits (40) and stolen bases.

De La Cruz put on a show in his final series in Dayton and won league player of the week honors. He batted .421 with five homers and three stolen bases. Within four games and three days, De La Cruz twice homered from both sides of the plate in the same game. The last time a Dragons player did that in a game was 2010.

The Reds signed De La Cruz to a modest $65,000 signing bonus out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old. He batted .285 but hit only one homer and stole three bases in 43 games in the Dominican Summer League in 2019.

He began 2021 in the Arizona Complex League and batted .400 with three homers in 11 games to earn a quick promotion to Daytona. With the Tortugas, he batted .269 with five homers and eight stolen bases in 50 games to get noticed.

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