Elly-Mania: Record Setting Arm. Elly De La Cruz (EDLC), baseball’s top prospect, has ignited the baseball world since making his long-awaited debut for the MLB’s Cincinnati Reds. The Reds rookie has completely shattered Statcast norms with his insane raw talent.
In my first four-part op-ed series for URBT News, I will use my personal experience as a lifelong baseball fan and eleven years of recreational baseball to demonstrate how evidence suggests that De La Cruz is a “once in a hundred years type of player.”
Spectacular? Without a shadow of a doubt. The most effective defensive player? That is more difficult to assess, but it is worth comparing him to others who have quickly captivated the baseball world.
In this, the fourth and final article in the series, I will present evidence to put EDLC’s defensive abilities and arm strength into context.
Elly Lets His Arms Do The Talking
Elly De La Cruz’s gold arm has rewritten baseball’s defensive record books. De La Cruz’s incredible arm strength has been on display all season. This season, the 21-year-old has made several jaw-dropping shortstop plays.
Wild Assassin With a Cannon!
“For me, (arm strength) has always been there,” De La Cruz said via interpreter Jorge Merlos. “I don’t have to work like pitchers do and keep constantly working on it. I just know that it’s always been there and that I can use it.”
Making History As A Rookie
On July 16, 2023, De La Cruz fielded a ground ball hit by Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Joey Wiemer and zipped a 97.9 mph throw over to first base for the out, breaking the Statcast era (since 2015) record for fastest throw by an infielder.
It didn’t take long for Reds rookie Elly De La Cruz to break his own infield assist throwing velocity record.
On Thursday, July 20, 2023, in front of wide-eyed fans at Great American Ball Park, De La Cruz uncorked a 99.8 mph throw to home that nailed Giants runner Wilmer Flores trying to score.
Then, on August 27, 2023, De La Cruz threw out Corbin Carroll of the Arizona Diamondbacks at home with a nearly 100-mph throw as he attempted an inside-the-park home run. The throw set a new Statcast record for the fastest infield throw in history.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!
On Monday, September 4, 2023, the Cincinnati Reds’ infield combined for one of the season’s strangest putouts. The old 1-4-6-3 putout, capped off by a bullet throw from shortstop Elly De La Cruz, concluded a wild play for the defense.
Ty France of the Seattle Mariners hit a ground ball toward the pitcher’s mound. Second baseman Spencer Steer struggled to field the ball after it deflected off pitcher Michael Mariot.
De La Cruz was in perfect position as a backup after the ball ate up Steer in front of second base. He made the play and rifled the ball to first base, edging France by a step.
De La Cruz didn’t realize how hard he threw the ball on his record-breaking infield assist.
“I knew that it was thrown hard,” De La Cruz said. “I thought maybe it was 93 or 94. But then I realized it was 97. It was like, ‘Oh, alright.’”
Getting it Done With the Glove
De La Cruz displays defensive versatility, splitting his time in the field between shortstop and third base.
EDLC has made 81 defensive starts for the Cincinnati Reds, playing shortstop and third base. He has started 52 games and played 466 innings at shortstop. He has started 29 games and played 259 innings at third base. EDLC has a .953 field percentage at shortstop and a .986 field percentage at third base.
“He has impressive abilities in everything he does. Nothing surprises me with him, even stuff like that. It’s a gift from God,” said Reds reliever Fernando Cruz.
Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson compared EDLC’s mechanics with those of Hall of Famer Satchel Paige. Baseball greats Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Dizzy Dean, and Bob Feller proclaimed Satchel Paige the greatest pitcher ever. Johnson added, “Most of us have to work at being good. He does, too. But he has a gift. He’s enabling it. That’s a great thing.”
You’re in good company when your name is mentioned alongside Paige in baseball history.
What Lies Ahead?
De La Cruz built his reputation as a standout defender.
We still haven’t seen the best of De La Cruz. Within the game, rumblings and whispers are burbling beneath the surface. If not this week, then potentially the next. The future is imminent at Great American Ballpark, and Reds fans should be incredibly excited.
Related URBT News article: Op-Ed: Elly-Mania: The Hype Is Real!
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