Two teams that are enjoying surprising success thanks to exceptional rookies meet for the first time this season when the Arizona Diamondbacks visit the Cincinnati Reds on Friday in the opener of a three-game weekend series
Cincinnati’s rookie crop is headlined by Elly De La Cruz. His relay throw from shortstop to nail a runner at home plate was clocked at 99.8 mph in the Reds‘ 5-1 win over San Francisco on Thursday. It was the hardest throw on an infield assist in the Statcast era (since 2015) — breaking his own record
“You can kind of see it coming,” Reds manager David Bell said of De La Cruz, who also recorded a 97.9 mph infield assist on Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers. “Obviously, taking a run off the board is just huge in any game, and that was a big play (Thursday).
Fellow rookie Andrew Abbott allowed just one hit in eight shutout innings in the win, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, in just his fourth major league game, collected his fourth RBI.
Will Benson, a second-year player, also has matured for the Reds after being acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Guardians in February
The outfielder hit a three-run homer that helped the Reds snap a six-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over San Francisco on Wednesday
On Thursday, he had a two doubles, a run and an RBI. Benson overcame a demotion to Triple-A Louisville early in the season — he was 1-for-21 with 12 strikeouts at the time — and is batting .289 and slugging .526 for the season.
“We have a lot of younger players, but I don’t think I think about it that way because of just the way they’re handling everything (with) that maturity,” Bell said. “The good players, they’re not playing like first-year players, and that’s not trying to put too much on them or add pressure.”
Outfielder Corbin Carroll, Arizona’s first-round pick in 2019, is a leading candidate for National League Rookie of the Year. He made the NL All-Star team and is batting .283 with 19 homers, 51 RBIs and 29 stolen bases after hitting a homer and stealing a base in a 7-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.
“Some of the guys from that (2019) class are here right now helping us win baseball games,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “The head of the class was clearly Corbin. He was our first pick. I do remember meeting him for the first time, signed his contract and took (batting practice) with us. It didn’t surprise me. I knew (we) would draft anybody who could be the best player with the best tools.”
Arizona sends left-hander Tommy Henry (5-2, 3.89 ERA) to the mound in the series opener. The 25-year-old will be making his 15th start of the season.
Henry showed signs of rust in his latest start, which came on Sunday at Toronto. After getting 10 days of rest over the All-Star break, Henry allowed seven hits and three runs over 4 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking one while taking a 7-5 loss.
Henry will be opposing Cincinnati for the first time.
The Reds will counter with right-hander Ben Lively (4-5, 3.72 ERA), who will make his 10th start of 2023. In his most recent outing, a loss on Sunday against the visiting Brewers, Lively made it through just four innings before leaving with cramps. He allowed one run on three hits and no walks while striking out three
Lively will be facing Arizona for the fourth time in his career but for the first time since 2018, when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies. He is 0-2 with a 9.22 ERA vs. the Diamondbacks in three starts covering 13 2/3 innings
–Field Level Media
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