Is Bae Ji-hwan (Pittsburgh Pirates) overtaking a matter of time? The monster rookie from the Dominican Republic shocked the major leagues once again.
Eli De La Cruz (21, Cincinnati Reds) started as shortstop 4 times in the 2023 major league away game against the Milwaukee Brewers held at American Family Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the 9th (Korean time), 5 at-bats, 2 hits, 1 RBI Recorded 2 runs and 3 steals.
De la Cruz, born in 2002, has been making headlines every day since making his major league debut on June 7 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. From his minor league days, he was considered a top-tier prospect. He is the #8 prospect in Baseball America for 2023. He was Cincinnati’s top minor leaguer by Baseball America in 2022.
The crazy athletic ability reminiscent of a monster catches the eye. He displays great power and speed. In 29 games, 40 hits in 122 at-bats, batting average 0.328, 4 home runs, 16 RBIs, 28 runs, on-base percentage 0.366, slugging percentage 0.533, OPS 0.899. There is no need for a major league adaptation period. He was so good that he made the hit for the cycle in just 15 games of his debut on June 24 against the Atlanta Braves.
In this situation, he succeeded in stealing second and third bases and stealing home all at once, shocking the people around him. “I really didn’t understand what happened,” Cincinnati third base coach JR House told MLB.com. It was really impressive. When he slipped to third base, his play wasn’t over.”
The situation was this. It was 2 out and 3 base in the beginning of the 7th inning when the score was tied at 5-5. De La Cruz lightly pushed Milwaukee’s right-hander Elvis Figuero’s slider and hit a one-run final left-handed hit. However, after that, he showed off his unique strength by stealing second and third bases in succession.
What was surprising was after the third base was stolen. Figuero and catcher William Contreras were completely caught off guard. Figuero came to the mound and received a throw from Contreras. And he slowly walked up to the mound. In the process, no one cared about de la Cruz.
De la Cruz didn’t miss the moment. From third base, he quietly moved home, and then ran home. Figuero threw home late, but De La Cruz swept the home plate just before Contreras turned around and tagged after the catch. It was a scene that revealed that not only the athletic ability was a monster, but the baseball sense was also amazing. “I saw the pitcher go back to the mound, and he was walking at a slow pace. He wasn’t looking at third base, so I decided to go home.”안전놀이터
16 stolen bases in 29 games. From the game against the Washington Nationals on the 5th to this day, he had 7 steals in 5 consecutive games. In no time, he tied for 10th in the National League with Ha-seong Kim (San Diego Padres). Given his explosive athleticism, 20 steals should be considered ridiculous, and he could be a huge dark horse in the stealing race.
Bae Ji-hwan (Pittsburgh Pirates), Nico Horner (Chicago Cubs), and Jake McCarty (Arizona Diamondbacks) are tied for fifth with 20 steals. In particular, Bae Ji-hwan is closed due to an ankle injury. The first half has only one game left. If Bae Ji-hwan does not return with the start of the second half, there is a possibility that De La Cruz will lightly defeat Bae Ji-hwan in the second half. The pursuit of Trey Turner (Philadelphia Phillies) with 19 stolen bases and Tyro Estrada (San Francisco Giants) with 18 stolen bases is already in sight.
Cincinnati leads the central division of the National League with 50 wins and 40 losses thanks to De La Cruz’s monstrous performance. De la Cruz and Cincinnati’s moves are one of the biggest topics in the second half of the National League race.