Shortstop Elly De La Cruz has only played in 37 big league games so far, but he has already produced several exciting moments in a Cincinnati Reds uniform.
In less than a week, the rookie phenom managed to set and break his own record for throwing velocity on an infield assist. During Thursday’s game against the San Francisco Giants, De Le Cruz launched a 99.8 mph throw to home plate to put an end to any hope Giants infielder Wilmer Flores had of scoring a run.
“I knew on that throw I was going to be able to throw it as quickly as possible,” De La Cruz said via a translator after the game. “I’m just ready every time to throw whatever is needed.”
The 21-year-old De La Cruz has already thrown four 95-plus mph infield assists over the course of his young MLB career.
De La Cruz expressed confidence about his ability to throw even faster if he needed to. “We had to get that guy out at home. But you know what? I can definitely throw harder than that,” he said.
Nevertheless, De La Cruz’s impressive throw clocked in faster than any pitch the Giants starting pitcher or relief pitchers threw during the game. One of relief pitcher Mauricio Llovera’s pitches came in at 97.4 mph — slightly under De La Cruz’s impressive throw.
On July 16, during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers, De La Cruz moved to third base where he fielded a ground ball. Moments later he fired a then-record 97.9 mph throw to record an infield assist.
At the time, the throw was the fastest-tracked infield assist that Statcast had on record.
De La Cruz’s record-breaking throw on Thursday ended the fourth inning. Flores was on first base when Giants outfielder Luis Matos hit the baseball over the glove of a Reds outfielder for a double.
Instead of stopping at third-bases, Flores was waived to home plate after the outfielder temporarily bobbled the baseball.
De La Cruz was in the cutoff man position and received the throw from his teammate on the shallow part of the outfield grass. He then fired the lightning fast throw to the plate.
Reds catcher Luke Maile then successfully applied the tag.
“The thing about Elly too is he’s just helping us win in so many ways,” Reds manager David Bell said after the game. “A lot of it goes maybe unnoticed, even though we’re all recognizing what a special player he is. Taking a run off the board is huge in any game. That was a big play today.”
Cincinnati defeated San Francisco 5-1 to remain 2.5 games behind the Brewers in the NL Central division.