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Alex Reyes flashes potential in Futures Game appearance

Alex Reyes dazzled in San Diego yesterday evening, and the baseball world took notice.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a relatively slow statistical start (4.35 ERA, 3.75 FIP over 41.1 Triple-A innings) to his delayed 2016 minor league season, the flame-throwing top organizational prospect Alex Reyes was chosen as the starting pitcher for the World team in yesterday evening's Futures Game at Petco Park in San Diego. As I tweeted prior to the game, Cardinals fans were being given the opportunity to witness Reyes' reliever potential with him slated to throw no more than two innings in the game. Reyes failed to disappoint, both from a statistical standpoint and a radar gun standpoint:

Final Line

1.2 2 0 0 1 4

This already superb line was one called strike away from being flawless (5 K, 0 BB) as Reyes threw a sharp, but elevated curveball on 2-2 against his last batter of the game (the batter, Travis Demeritte, walked on the next pitch), but the home plate umpire hesitated and called it a ball, despite the pitch dropping into a location that has consistently been called a strike at the major league level so far this season.

100+ MPH fourseamer with movement

Reyes FB

In addition to bouts of command and control issues, a knock on Reyes' fastball has been that, despite its extreme velocity, it is usually relatively straight (and ultimately hittable once it is timed up by the hitter). Some scouts have even suggested that Reyes should dial the pitch down a notch in hopes of promoting more movement.

Well, if the above pitch is any indication, Reyes' fastball, even at 100+ MPH, has the potential for plenty of horizontal movement as this pitch starts on the outside corner before tailing nearly six inches down and in. Imagine such a pitch to a left-handed hitter -- 100+ MPH seemingly targeting the front knee only to tail back into the zone the last few feet before home plate. Even the most professional hitters are going to look silly against Reyes.

Devastating curveball to Dansby Swanson

Reyes CB

While Reyes' fastball is clearly his most talked about pitch, his offspeed offerings will be crucial in determining his success as a starting pitcher at the major league level. Out of the bullpen, though, he will absolutely work off his fastball. Fortunately, both his curveball and changeup (I wish I would have been able to find a GIF of the changeup talked about here) possess swing-and-miss quality. In my opinion, Reyes' secondary offerings may actually be better than his fastball and will eventually prove to be more useful in the long run, too.

Baseball people took notice

Bottom Line

I fully expect a Reyes' promotion to the big leagues in the second half (over the offseason, the scenario was often led with "if," but now it is led with "when"). I would not necessarily consider him ready to join the starting rotation, but as is customary for many Cardinals pitching prospects, he will benefit from time in the bullpen, and in turn, the team will benefit by having another late-inning weapon available. I simply cannot wait to dive into his PitchF/x data on once he is promoted.

For good measure, I reached out to Reyes after the game, and this is what he had to say:

"Felt great. Being a part of a game like this is a huge honor and a very humbling experience. Our clubhouse was great and thanks to God we came home with the W."

And in case you would like to revisit them, here are two Q&A's we have hosted with Reyes over the last two and a half years. It is neat to see where Reyes was then compared to where he is now.