Around this time of year, baseball publications focused on prospects tend to release their top prospects, top farm systems, and top prospects by organization. Those releases have started to come in, and one of the more respected publications, Baseball Prospectus, issued a preview of their Annual (buy a copy here). The Cardinals do not have a lot of volume in their Top 101 prospects, landing just one player after getting three in the previous year's list. However, that one is a big one, as Cardinals' righty Alex Reyes was named 10th best prospect in all of baseball.
Last season, the Cardinals put three players on BP's list: Stephen Piscotty at 32, Marco Gonzales at 52, and Alex Reyes at 55. Stephen Piscotty earned his ranking both in the minors and majors last year with a solid showing, and due to his time in the majors, he is no longer eligible for prospect lists. Marco Gonzales is still eligible for prospect lists, but had a bit of a lost season due to injuries and inconsistency.
Alex Reyes, who turned 21 last August, had a great season in the minors, striking out 148 hitters in 98.1 innings pitched and gave up just a single home run all season between High-A and Double-A Springfield. Walks have been a bit of an issue, but he was throwing well in Arizona Fall League as well before receiving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for marijuana. The suspension will cost him the first couple months of the season, but it is not dampened Reyes' prospect status. From the BP Annual:
Reyes has one of the most electric right arms in the minors. His fastball sits in the upper 90s and touches triple digits. He pairs that with a potential wipeout curve that he can throw for strikes or bury to put away hitters. He struggles at times to harness both pitches, and his command of the fastball is presently below average.
BP conlcudes by saying Reyes "has one of the highest ceilings of any current pitching prospect". This comes on the heels of Jim Callis at MLBPipeline.com rating Reyes as the third-best right-handed prospect in all of baseball.
Reyes is still a bit raw, but he can hit 100 mph with his fastball and back it up with a hammer curveball.
Their top 100 list will come out on Friday, but as you might already know, at Viva El Birdos, we have already released our version of the Cardinals' top prospects heading into the season, and to nobody's surprise, Alex Reyes is first.
The stuff Reyes brings to the mound is borderline unfair, with a fastball that sat comfortably at 94-97 this year, and touched triple digits nearly every time out. The heater is most effective when it's up, either at the top of the zone or up out of it, where hitters have virtually no shot at catching up. And as good as the fastball is, there are days when Reyes's curve is just as good, with true 12-to-6 break, nose to toes as the old saying goes, giving him two 70 grade pitches with which to attack hitters unfortunate enough to step into the box against him.
Reyes might have an opportunity to crack the bullpen or rotation by the end of the season, but he will spend a good portion of this season in the minors working on his command and refining his changeup. If he keeps progressing, he has the potential to be one of the very best pitchers in baseball.