elle de la cruz is still working towards his first promotion to the major leaguesBut he did something at Louisville Slugger Field on Tuesday that no MLB player has accomplished in the last nine years.
Cincinnati Reds star prospect De La Cruz had two home runs and a double in Triple-A Louisville's 10-9 comeback win over Columbus Clippers, His night was unparalleled, registering exit velocities of 118.8 mph (double), 117.1 mph (428-foot homer) and 116.6 mph (456-foot homer).
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According to research from MLB.com, it's the first time any player — or even any MLB team — has hit more than 116 mph in a single game since Statcast began recording the data in 2015. Hit three balls with exhaust velocity. De la Cruz's double at 118.8 mph was the hardest hit ball by any player in the majors or Triple-A this season.
If that wasn't remarkable enough, the 6-foot-6 switch hitter hit homers from both sides of the plate and took walk-offs.
“You hit the ball so hard that walks definitely help,” Reds manager david Bell said Wednesday. “I don't know who the pitcher was or anything, but it's a tough spot to be in that tough spot after three balls. It's like what do you do? Strike or not? Walk, there's discipline involved and the strike zone. And that's all there is to know, but sometimes you earn the ability to walk the way you hit the ball straight.
The 21-year-old De La Cruz is widely regarded as one of the best prospects in the game and Tuesday was another example of his potential. There are only two players who have hit two balls at 116 mph in the same game, according to statistician Joel Luckhaupt of Bali Sports Ohio: Giancarlo Stanton (six times) and Aaron Judge (once).
There have only been two balls hit by Reds hitters above 116 mph since 2015. Michael Lorenzen hit a 116.5 mph line drive single as a pinch-hitter, and Aristides Aquino hit 118.3 mph during his first full month in the majors. ,
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Bell said, “Everybody knows that the harder you hit the ball, the more hits you get, the more damage you do, the more home runs you hit, the more runs your team scores.” “We're caught up in new numbers and everything. A lot of it is just a way of keeping track of things we've always known.
There is a difference, however, when 116 mph is regularly visible. Seven MLB players to hit 116 mph this year: Matt Olsson, Wilson Contreras, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Ronald Acuña Jr., Shohei Ohtani, Jock Pederson and Yordon Alvarez.
De la Cruz has had four 116-mph hits within the past week, per Baseball AmericaAnd he had a 113.8 mph lineout in Wednesday's game.
“There's no question that says much,” Bell said. “That's where numbers like that can indicate something that needs attention. That's a big deal. It's really hitting the ball consistently.”
De la Cruz missed the first few weeks of the season recovering from a hamstring strain and opened his time at Triple-A with a 2-for-22 slump with 11 strikeouts. In his last 12 games, he has hit .345 with five homers, four doubles, 13 RBI and 12 runs scored.
According to Baseball America, he already recorded the fastest throw by an infielder this season (99.2 mph) and the third-fastest time from home to third (11.19 seconds).
The Reds need to see de la Cruz become more consistent defensively — he has three errors in 12 games at shortstop — and cut down on his strikeouts before he reaches the majors, but the raw talent abounds.
De la Cruz headlines a talented group of prospects in Louisville that includes middle infielder Matt McLain (.336 batting average, 11 homers and 10 doubles in 34 games), first baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand (.364 batting average, seven homers and . 16 RBI). in 15 games) and starting pitcher Andrew Abbott (2.05 ERA over 30 2/3 innings with 60 strikeouts).
“We have players that are fun to follow right now,” said Bell, a former minor league manager and farm director for the San Francisco Giants. “We're focused on our major league team and at some point, we anticipate a lot of the minor league guys will join. It's fun. We're all part of the same team. I think my It is important to know what is happening and follow those people.
This article originally appeared on the Cincinnati Enquirer: Eli De La Cruz, Cincinnati Reds prospect, sets exit velocity record