The Braves optioned De La Cruz to Triple-A Gwinnett on March 6.
De La Cruz was part of the Braves' first wave of 40-man-roster players that was sent back to minor-league camp. The move came as little surprise, as the 22-year-old has yet to pitch at the Triple-A level. He split the 2019 season between three levels, spending the bulk of the campaign at Double-A Mississippi, where he posted a 3.83 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 87 innings.
De La Cruz's contract was selected by the Braves on Tuesday.
De La Cruz made his debut in Double-A last season, and he recorded a 3.83 ERA with 73 strikeouts over 87 innings at that level. While his development is progressing nicely, his addition to the 40-man roster is primarily to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. The 22-year-old will likely return to the minors to begin the 2020 season.
De La Cruz gave up four hits and two walks while striking out a season-high 10 over six scoreless innings for Double-A Mississippi on Sunday.
The 22-year-old started the season at Low-A but has roared through the Atlanta system, posting a 2.55 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 95:35 K:BB through 95.1 innings across three levels. An international signing in 2015, De La Cruz has bulked up since then and smoothed out his delivery, allowing him to routinely sit at 95 mph with his fastball, and his slider has the look of a true plus pitch. His changeup is also developing nicely, giving him a strong chance of sticking in the rotation all the way to the majors. He's still somewhat under the radar, but De La Cruz profiles as a future mid-rotation starter, adding to the organization's wealth of pitching prospects.
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