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Cincinnati Reds option Elly De La Cruz, reassign Christian Encarnacion-Strand to AAA

The inevitable cuts came Tuesday.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

There was some hope that the Cincinnati Reds, long admirers or being patient with their top prospects, would decide to take a different path this spring with such a wealth of young talent in camp. They’d turned course in recent seasons with those types, breaking camp with the likes of Jonathan India two seasons ago and letting Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo loose early last season, but that just seemed unlikely in this, another deep rebuild of a season looming.

Despite Christian Encarnacion-Strand absolutely punishing baseballs all spring, he was reassigned to minor league camp by the Reds on Tuesday. Joining him in the wave of cuts were fellow top prospects Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain, all of whom have shown their varying talents early and often in camp thus far.

The Reds announced the moves on Twitter, with pitchers Ricky Karcher and Casey Legumina joining them in the camp cull.

The return of Joey Votto to camp healthy likely spelled the end of the outside chance CES made the Opening Day roster, but given that he’s yet to reach AAA in his pro career that was a slim chance despite his early brilliance. The rest of the moves, while frustrating to those with an eye firmly turned to the future, were mostly inevitable.

As a result, it’ll be Votto at 1B/DH and the slightly elder wave of youth that will get first crack in the Cincinnati infield, as Spencer Steer has the 3B job pretty much locked down alongside Jose Barrero at short. How long they’ll hold on to those positions remains to be seen, of course, but they’ll at least get the first crack in 2023.