You don’t have to know a thing about the Cincinnati Reds or even be able to locate the city on a map to understand what Elly De La Cruz has done for that baseball team. It’s no coincidence the team took off following his promotion. Not only is he a great player, he’s an exciting one with the kind of oomph New York Mets fans have desired out of their own kids.
Francisco Alvarez had a period this season when he looked like he could be one of the hottest rookies in baseball. His power is undeniable but some struggles have tamed him of late.
It wasn’t long ago Boomer Esiason asked when the Mets could get a prospect like De La Cruz. Well, they’ve had a few. Pete Alonso did some De La Cruz things in 2019 when he led the National League in home runs and set a new rookie record. The Mets continually had rookies dazzle us throughout the 2010s with most of them occurring with performances on the mound. We can also credit Michael Conforto in 2015 with coming up big for them down the stretch as a rookie.
The difference between a lot of those Mets rookies and what De La Cruz is doing is how many things he seems to do so well. It’s that power and speed combination the Mets have yet to get from any of their exciting young rookies. Is there a guy who can change it?
NY Mets rookies lack the speed and power combination that brings extra excitement to the field
Alvarez, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos may never combine to steal as many bases in the major leagues as De La Cruz will. They could out-homer him, but it’s the threat he poses on the base paths which helps separate him from the Baby Mets who feel a little less exhilarating.
De La Cruz stole 47 bases last year in the minors and has proven he can continue to swipe them with regularity in his brief time in the majors this season. Add this to his power and we have ourselves what feels like a baseball unicorn if all you’ve done is watch Mets baseball.
Two prospects capable of having the same power and speed are Ronny Mauricio and Alex Ramirez. Mauricio has taken full flight this season in terms of power. His stolen base abilities continue to grow as well. He set personal highs in both areas last year with 26 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Is he the kind of player capable of getting called up and replicating a De La Cruz stretch?
Fans of the 2023 season seem to be unified in being willing to find out. De La Cruz has bounced between third base and shortstop for the Reds. Mauricio is a candidate to do the same with second base and maybe left field as his two spots.
Then there’s Ramirez, a few years further away from big league action, who might be viewed as one of the next budding superstars in baseball. Now 20 and in High-A, speed has been a bigger part of his game than home run power. However, his 30 doubles and 11 home runs in 121 games in 2022 could be an indication of a rise somewhere in the future.
Ultimately it’s not about the excitement of players unless you’re trying to sell jerseys. Mets fans would willingly accept these prospects are boring if the team is winning and they’re just doing their job. As we’ve seen on teams like the Atlanta Braves, the kids can help carry each other. De La Cruz is not a flavor of the week; he just happens to be the hottest young star in the game, reminding us all what the Mets could have in store.