Much-Hyped Rookie Elly De La Cruz Joining Reds

Much-Hyped Rookie Elly De La Cruz Joining Reds
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

The top prospect in Major League Baseball just got his first call to The Show.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Cincinnati Reds announced they were promoting Elly De La Cruz from Louisville to replace Nick Senzel, who went on the injured list.

But De La Cruz is more than just an injury replacement. He is the most hyped prospect in the history of baseball’s oldest franchise, and it’s not as if the Reds haven’t had their share of good ones.

His arrival will be well noted by Ohio sportsbooks.

Mo Egger, a Cincinnati area native who has been a sports radio host in the city for 16 years, told that he can’t remember a Reds rookie who has generated this much attention. In the last couple of decades, players such as Adam Dunn, Homer Bailey, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman and — more recently — Hunter Greene have been heralded as they made their debuts. However, they weren’t like De La Cruz, 21, who stands 6-5 and can play shortstop, second base or third base.

Since last season, the five-tool athlete has emerged as a potential superstar, with highlights of monumental home runs and lightning speed flooding social media. He already posts exit velocities that rival or exceed the likes of Aaron Judge, with homers traveling 450 feet or longer.

Some of what De La Cruz has accomplished in the minors might be hard to replicate in the bigs,  but Egger said it’s not just the highlights that excite Reds fans.

“Even if you are skeptical that he can live up to the hype, what you can’t deny is what the measurables tell you,” said Egger, who spoke with about an hour before the Reds announced the move. “He’s got an elite throwing arm. He’s got elite athleticism. He’s got incredible speed, and the ball just flies off his bat. So, anybody with immense physical gifts has got a pretty good chance of doing things that we typically don’t see now.”

The first chance to see De La Cruz comes tonight. Cincinnati hosts the Los Angeles Dodgers for a three-game series and the heralded rookie is batting cleanup and playing third base.

Bettors Taking Notice of De La Cruz

While De La Cruz has been slugging away in AAA Louisville to the tune of 12 homers, 36 RBI, 11 stolen bases and a .298/.398/.633 slash line in 38 games, Ohio sports betting apps have been watching him as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate in the National League.

WynnBET Ohio isn’t taking bets on the award right now, but spokesperson Travis Eldridge told bets on De La Cruz represent 11.1% of all wagers placed and 10.6% of the handle. Most bets occurred when he was listed at 50-1 earlier in the season.

At FanDuel Ohio, he’s the fourth choice at 13-1, and Director of Communications Alex Pitocchelli said 4% of the handle and 7% of the wagers have been on De La Cruz. For perspective, Arizona outfielder Corbin Carroll, the current favorite with odds of +105, has received 36% of the handle and 15% of the bets. Dodgers outfielder James Outman (9-1 odds) is next with 8% and 5%, respectively.

Eric Biggio, the MLB lead for Caesars Sportsbook, said the interest in De La Cruz reminds him of the hype Oneil Cruz received after Pittsburgh called him up last season.

“His highest odds were at 30-1, which isn’t crazy, but some well-known baseball touts released De La Cruz as a play, so people were betting him quite a bit,” Biggio said.

As of Monday night, De La Cruz was the co-fourth choice at Caesars, with his 20-1 odds the same as Miami pitcher Eury Pérez and fellow Reds infielder Matt McLain. If you want to jump in, you will want the Caesars Ohio promo code.

DraftKings Senior Director of Communications Stephen Miraglia told that De La Cruz’s odds have “shortened significantly” over the last week and a half. In late April, he was available at 60-1. He was at 45-1 on May 24 and dropped to 30-1 two days later and 20-1 on May 29. DraftKings had him at 16-1 on Friday. By Tuesday afternoon, those odds were down to 10-1.

“Consistent action on him over the last several weeks,” Miraglia said.

BetMGM, which has a retail sportsbook at the Reds Great American Ball Park, has also seen an uptick in interest. Fans will want to be armed with a BetMGM Ohio bonus code.

On May 23, 3.3% of the NL ROY tickets at BetMGM were placed on De La Cruz — sixth most at that time. On Tuesday, he now makes up 6.4% of the bets, which is the fourth largest in the market.

Can De La Cruz Win?

Debuting with less than two-thirds of the season left does mean De La Cruz has some catching up to do with other NL ROY contenders. While that is a challenge, Egger said as he considered it for the first time, that there is some potential benefit to the later arrival — provided he produces.

“Your typical rookie who starts the season hot, eventually, at some point, the season catches up to him,” Egger said. “Elly is going to be starting 2 1/2 months in. If he starts hot, there’s not as much season left to catch up to him.”

It’s not unheard of for a midseason callup to win the Rookie of the Year award. Atlanta’s Michael Harris II won it last year in the National League after making his 2022 season debut on May 28. Jacob de Grom, the 2014 NL winner, did not make his big league debut with the New York Mets until May 15.



Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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