Shortstop Elly De La Cruz has only played in 37 Major League games thus far, but he’s 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 pitch speed record with an infield assist. During Thursday’s game against the San Francisco Giants, De Le Cruz launched a 99.8 mph throw home to end any hope Giants infielder Wilmer Flores had of scoring a run.
«I knew on that pitch I was going to be able to throw it as fast as possible,» De La Cruz said through a translator after the game. «I’m ready all the time to throw whatever it takes.»
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De La Cruz, 21, has already thrown four infield assists of over 95 mph over the course of his young MLB career.
De La Cruz expressed confidence in his ability to throw even faster if necessary. «We had to take that guy out at home. But you know what? I can definitely throw harder than that,» he said.
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However, De La Cruz’s impressive pitch was faster than any pitch by the Giants’ starting pitcher or relievers during the game. One of reliever Mauricio Llovera’s pitches came in at 97.4 mph, slightly below De La Cruz’s impressive pitch.
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 record 97.9 mph pitch to record an infield assist.
At the time, the pitch was the fastest infield assist recorded by Statcast.
De La Cruz’s record pitch Thursday ended the fourth inning. Flores was on first base when Giants outfielder Luis Matos hit the ball over the glove of a Reds outfielder for a double.
Instead of stopping at third base, Flores was moved to home plate after the outfielder temporarily threw the ball.
De La Cruz was in the cutoff man position and caught his teammate’s pitch in the shallow part of the outfield grass. He then fired the fast pitch home.
Reds catcher Luke Maile then successfully applied the tag.
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«The thing about Elly as well is that she’s helping us win in a lot of ways,» Reds manager David Bell said after the game. «A lot of it maybe goes under the radar, even though we’re all acknowledging what a special player he is. Taking a run off the board is huge in any game. That was a great play today.»
Cincinnati defeated San Francisco 5-1 to remain 2.5 games behind the Brewers in the National League Central.