The Cardinals made a splash in the Dominican market this week with the signing of Alexander Reyes for $950,000. Alexander, who grew up in Elizabeth, NJ before moving to the Dominican with family has taken a less traditional path to professional baseball.
Alexander Reyes grew up in Elizabeth, NJ, just outside of Newark, NJ. His family is of Dominican decent and per DPLBaseball.com, he moved to his family's native Dominican Republic a year ago in December of 2011 so that he would be able to train all year round to become a professional baseball player. Not coincidentally, the Cardinals signed Reyes almost exactly a year after he moved to the Dominican because there is a MLB-mandated year grace period before a prospect can be signed out of the Dominican Republic.
Ben Badler of Baseball America indicates his surprise at the fact that Reyes received such a large bonus (the 2nd biggest bonus of the year for a Dominican pitcher) despite the fact that a lot of scouts had not actually seen him pitch. Badler does say that the Astros and Royals were both also interested in Reyes and he did spend time at the Royals academy, so it is unlikely that the Cardinals stashed Reyes at their academy for the whole year.
Reyes does seem to have found a bit of a loophole in MLB's US draft system as was able to move to the DR for a year and sign with whichever team he wanted and/or whichever team offered him the most money. In this case, everything Reyes did was completely within the rules and the Cardinals are the team that will benefit.
Now on to the scouting reports.
Reyes shows a present plus fastball and 2 other solid pitches, projecting him to be a quality starter down the road. His FB velocity sits 91-93 (95)mph; CB has tight rotation and can throw it for strikes; CH is deceptive with movement down in the zone. He commands his pitches and pounds the strike zone with a good feel for pitching.
Ben Badler of Baseball America:
Those who have seen Reyes say he is 6-foot-3, 185 pounds and has had his fastball increase in recent months, going from the high-80s to sitting 90-93 mph and touching 94. A converted shortstop, Reyes' best offspeed pitch is his changeup, which he already sells with good arm speed, and he mixes in a curveball as well.
As he moved from the US just last year, Reyes is fluent in both English and Spanish and should make his first appearance for the Cardinals in the US-based short season leagues, most likely the GCL in 2013.