Even before Elly De La Cruz set foot on a big league field, he had already made history.
The much-hyped Reds prospect made his MLB debut at home against the Dodgers on Tuesday night after torching Triple A competition to the tune of 12 home runs and a 1.031 OPS in 38 games. When Cincinnati manager David Bell filled out the lineup card and slotted the 21-year-old third baseman into the No. 4 spot, De La Cruz became the fifth-youngest player in the past 100 years to make his MLB debut in the cleanup spot, per MLB.com’s Sarah Langs.
De La Cruz more than lived up to the lofty expectations that preceded his arrival to the majors. He walked in his first plate appearance and scored a run in the bottom of the first inning. He then registered his first hit in the third inning with a rocket double to center field off Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin.
With an exit velocity of 112 mph, De La Cruz’s double is the hardest-hit ball by a Reds batter this season, per Langs. He later walked in the fifth inning before finally getting retired with a sixth-inning groundout. He struck out looking in the eighth inning to finish 1-for-3 with two walks.
Penciling a player into the cleanup spot in his MLB debut certainly shows a lot of confidence from Bell, and De La Cruz rewarded him with an electric debut. Given his strong first impression, it’s safe to assume the youngster can get used to hitting in the heart of the Reds’ order for the foreseeable future.