Elly De La Cruz: MLB’s New #1 Prospect

Future Reds infielder Elly De La Cruz
Photo Credit: / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Reds fans rejoice! The Reds are #1 in something positive for a change. Elly De La Cruz was named the number one prospect in baseball according to ESPN MLB Insider Kiley McDaniel. The current Louisville Bat is terrorizing AAA with a slash line of .282/.375/.590 and an OPS of .965. Not only is he mashing at the plate he has a rocket arm at shortstop, throwing the fastest infield throw (99.2 MPH) in all levels of baseball in the 2023 season.

Did I mention he can hit for power and run like the wind? De La Cruz can stretch an average single into a double and hit homeruns 512ft. I feel like I am in the scene of Friday Night Lights where Boobie Miles’s uncle is hyping him up to scouts during practice.

When Does Elly De La Cruz Make His Debut?

De La Cruz, barring no setbacks, should make his MLB debut in 2023. The question on everybody’s mind is “When?” Well let me add my speculation to the pot and say I could see him coming up mid-to-late August. I only say this because I would like to see De La Cruz maintain his rookie status for 2024, as should the Reds.

This would be a win-win situation because the Reds would have an extra year of control, and De La Cruz would get to see MLB action in 2023, while still being able to compete for rookie awards in 2024.

Elly De La Cruz will be one of those guys that the MLB draws from for growing the game. He could be the next Fernando Tatis Jr. where every little kid wants to be him, and older fans hate him. Let’s just hope Tatis’ off the field actions don’t find their way into De La Cruz career.

49ers Post Draft Reaction: An In-depth Review

Photo Credit: Briana McDonald 49ers Digital Media Coordinator

As the dust settles on the 2023 NFL draft, I am left scratching my head. The 49ers started their draft late in the third round at pick #87 with a glaring need for the team was offensive line and secondary help after losing Mike McGlinchey, Daniel Brunskill, Jimmie Ward, and Emmanuel Moseley. Instead, the 49ers traded up in the third round with the Vikings to draft safety Ji’ayir Brown from Penn State.

After that, the draft was a bit… odd, for lack of a better word. With pick #99 the 49ers selected kicker Jake Moody from Michigan. Taking a kicker was not the craziest thing for the 49ers due to Robbie Gould testing free agency for the upcoming season. At the end of the draft, the 49ers did not select an offensive lineman, which has been a need since the 2022 season ended.

Below is a list of the new 49ers and how they can contribute in 2023.

Pick 87: Ji’ayir Brown S | Penn State

Ji’ayir Brown is an explosive safety ready to make a play. He is great at run defense, racking up 153 total tackles in his college career with nine of them being for loss. His pass defense is also impressive where he totaled 10 interceptions and nine pass deflections. His discipline might get him in trouble due to over pursuit or misreading a play. Luckily, he will be playing in one of the best defenses in the NFL, which will be able to cover up his mistakes.

I look forward to him contributing a lot in his first year and possibly starting early in the season due to Jimmie Ward and Tarvarius Moore signing with new teams.

Pick 99: Jake Moody K | Michigan

Jake Moody was the best place kicker in the 2023 NFL draft. He made 148 of his 148 extra point attempts at Michigan and made 52 of his 60 field goals in his last two seasons. Most of those field goals came within 40 yards, where he was very consistent. His downside is his leg strength, where he is a bit questionable once he crosses the 40-yard threshold.

It will be an interesting spring and summer where he and veteran Zane Gonzalez battle to fill the huge void Robbie Gould left.

Pick 101: Cameron Latu TE | Alabama

Cameron Latu will not hop off the page with his athleticism or power, but has a way of shaking the secondary and pinpointing the ball. He is not great at run blocking off the line, but does excel at next-level blocking.

I can see the 49ers using him when needing a short pass or help with blocking downfield on wide receiver screens. He will more than likely start the season as a 3rd string tight end and not see a large capacity of snaps.

Pick 155: Darrell Luter Jr. CB | South Alabama

Darrell Luter Jr. is a physical corner with long arms. His stats are not as impressive as a first-round talent, but he makes it up with his physicality and long arms. He is great at press coverage, but may have an issue with zone coverage. He will need to improve his coverage on the long ball, but his long arms and ability to read a wide receiver’s eyes should help him quickly adapt in the NFL.

I do not expect him to start Week 1, but with the luck the 49ers have with the health of their corners he could be thrown in at any time.

Pick 173: Robert Beal Jr. DE | Georgia

Robert Beal Jr. is a lengthy athletic edge rusher who found himself being overshadowed by his star-studded teammates at Georgia. He is a raw talent that needs to be coached to his true ability. He is inconsistent with his pass rush moves, but when they work he looks like an All-Star.

I think after a season or two with one of the league’s top defensive line coaches, Kris Kocurek, we could see Robert Beal Jr. have a nice career in the NFL.

Pick 216: Dee Winters ILB | TCU

Dee Winters is a bit undersized in comparison to the average NFL linebacker, but he is not afraid to stick his nose in a play. He is great at shooting the gaps and laying a big hit on a ball carrier. He will need to work on his pass defense and ability to read an offense. I expect him to see some snaps during the season, especially on obvious run downs.

Pick 247: Brayden Willis TE | Oklahoma

Brayden Willis has strong hands and a great ability to pick up yards after catch. He likes to get to the middle of the field, and is not afraid to make a contested catch. He will be able to provide some help in the 49ers pass offense, but needs to improve his run blocking. Maybe a year under George Kittle’s wing could help Willis’ run blocking ability.

Pick 253: Ronnie Bell WR | Michigan

Ronnie Bell is a strong-handed receiver who’s not afraid to block in the run game. Bell had ACL surgery in 2021, but bounced back with an impressive season. Speed and quickness are a bit lacking, but he makes it up with strong hands and well-timed leaps. I would imagine he would start the season on special teams and occasionally get a few snaps on offense.

Pick 255: Jalen Graham OLB | Purdue

Jalen Graham is an energetic line backer who plays with no fear. He plays very physically, but can also drop back in coverage. He is a bit undersized and lacks the ability to read blocking assignments at times. Jalen will be in a backup role and play on special teams.

If I had to give this 49ers draft a grade, I would give it a “C”. Some holes will be filled, and some are still a question mark.

2023 MLB Season Week 1: Biggest Under and Overreactions

The MLB season has kicked off and we are one week in. It is nearly impossible to predict how the season will go after watching just one week’s worth of games, but I will give opinions on what I see. I will look at each division and provide a few takeaways and predictions for what we may see come October. I fully expect to look back at this article in October and ask myself “What was I thinking?” I have listed the divisions with teams in order of their place within that respected division. Now, let’s get into some overreactions and underreactions for the 2023 MLB season so far!

2023 MLB Season Overreactions: American League

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

AL East: (Rays, Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles, Red Sox)

Biggest Overreaction: “This division runs through the Bronx,” which we hear year in and year out. The Rays have started white hot with a 6-0 record and the largest run differential in all of baseball at +31. They are getting it done at the plate and on the mound. If the Rays can maintain their composure when they hit the wall that every team does, they should be seeing the Yankees in their rearview come October.

Biggest Underreaction: The Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles have the #1 farm system heading into the 2023 season, which they have already benefited from. They had their top prospect Grayson Rodriguez make his first start on Wednesday against the Rangers. He went 5 innings with 5 K’s, 2 ER’s, and 4 hits. Along with all their other upcoming talents, the city is full of hope to see the Orioles at the top of the division within the next 1-2 seasons.

AL Central: (Guardians, Twins, White Sox, Tigers, Royals)

Biggest Overreaction: There are few things to have overreactions about in this division so far in the 2023 MLB season. I don’t see much changing in the current standings when the season is over.

Biggest Underreaction: The Guardians and Twins are both strong, veteran teams. I would not be surprised to see both teams with 88+ wins and making deep runs in the playoffs. Dare I say the Guardians have what it takes to make it to the World Series?

AL West: (Rangers, Angels, Astros, A’s, Mariners)

Biggest Overreaction: “Jacob DeGrom will lead the Rangers to their first division title since 2016.” I am weary to think that DeGrom will stay healthy since he hasn’t pitched 100+ innings in a season since 2019. I hope DeGrom can pitch 200+ innings this year, because watching him pitch is amazing as a baseball fan.

Biggest Underreaction: Luis Castillo and the Seattle Mariners. As a Reds fan, watching Luis Castillo has been the one bright spot in my fandom. Seeing him dominating in Seattle is no shock to me. The Mariners have been building momentum, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them making noise in the playoffs this season.

I can’t talk about the AL West and not bring up Shohei Ohtani. I don’t expect to see him in an Angels uniform after 2023. More than likely he will be in Dodger Blue or Yankee Pinstripes.

2023 MLB Season Overreactions: National League

Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

NL East: (Braves, Mets, Marlins, Phillies, Nationals)

Biggest Overreaction: “The Mets will win the division with ease.” While trying to buy their way to a championship with a hefty free agent bill around $500 million, it doesn’t guarantee anything. We rarely see teams succeed in baseball when they try to buy a team of superstars, and I don’t see this going differently. With a 3-4 record and being swept by the Brewers, things don’t look great.

Biggest Underreaction: The Braves are still dominant. Who doesn’t love watching Ronald Acuña Jr. play baseball? The Braves are just fundamentally sound with a veteran team and look to winning their second World Series in three seasons.

NL Central: (Brewers, Pirates, Reds, Cubs, Cardinals)

Biggest Overreaction: “The Pirates and Reds are good.” Check back with me in August, when these two teams are fighting for 4th place in the division. I see them both showing an improvement from last year, but give these teams about two more years and we will see them both fighting for 1st place. Both have top 10 farm systems. Once they develop or trade for veterans, both fan bases will have something to root for.

Biggest Underreaction: The Cardinals will win the division for the second season in a row. With a star-studded infield anchored by Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, they will have no issues scoring. They have something to prove after losing early in the playoffs to the Phillies.

NL West: (Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, Giants, Rockies)

Biggest Overreaction: “Money will solve all problems in the Golden State.” With San Diego currently wheeling and dealing for the best lineup money can buy, it has not amounted to much besides a huge upcoming tax bill. The Dodgers will be okay because they still have a top-five farm system, but they are starting to feel the hangover of all their spending.

Biggest Underreaction: The Diamondbacks will make things interesting with a star-studded, third-ranked farm system and a Rookie of the Year front runner Corbin Carroll. I see them finishing third in the division, but fighting for second. Give the Diamondbacks another season or two, and it could feel like 2001 all over for them.