I had the chance to talk with Cardinals minor league pitcher Arturo Reyes while he is down in Arizona for the Arizona Fall League. Thanks to Arturo for taking the time out. You can follow him on twitter @Reyes3A
VEB: How has your experience been in Arizona thus far?
AR: It’s been good. Really enjoying it so far. Kind of a better--I wouldn’t say easier--but more consistent schedule with game times. It’s easier to get into a routine here.
VEB: You started the year as a starter, got hurt and finished the season in the bullpen. What was that transition like and was the transition due to the injury?
AR: I’m not sure. It might be a mix. That’s just something they felt was right for the time being and we’ll see what they decide on this next year. I’m mentally prepared to remain a starter, but whatever gets me up to the big leagues is what I’ll do.
VEB: Which Cardinals coaches have particularly helpful in your time in the minors?
AR: One coach I had a short period of time with who had a huge impact with me was Nemo (Randy Niemann). He was in Palm Beach when I was there and this year with rehab. He was very professional and helped me with a lot of stuff in a short period of time.
Simo (Jason Simontacci) was also one who had a big impact. I spent most of the year in ‘15 there and thats when I had the most success. I can always go back to some words of wisdom he gave me and just having that bulldog mentality. I could say something about every pitching coach I have going back to high school and college ball. My community college coach (Steve Farrington) probably had the biggest impact on me as far as my career has gone.
VEB: How much of a role do the Cardinals play in your offseason regimen? What do they have you working on before spring? How does it work?
AR: They give us guidelines at the beginning of the year, and we go through our workout for the whole season. In the offseason, they touch base and make sure your testing is all the same and what you need to work on as far as strength and conditioning, working on weaknesses bodywise. When it comes to pitching and coaches like that, you are on your own.
This year I was fortunate to make it to the Fall League. I was supposed to go last year but the injury at the end of the season kind of set me back and I didn’t make the trip. This time, I get some coaching from different organizations, so it is nice to see the different perspectives.
You can never learn enough in this game. Go to any pitching coaches: opinions and thoughts and little techniques that get you going back to being consistent. And that’s the biggest thing: as long as you remain coachable. I feel fortunate to be here.
VEB: When you were drafted in the 40th round, how realistic were you about making it to the majors and how do you feel now that you are so close to the majors?
AR: I had my brother who played professional baseball a couple years. He was drafted in ‘09 i believe, so i knew how difficult it was just seeing him go through it. Him talking to me about it--knowing that it’s not going to be any easy process no matter what round you are drafted in.
You may get more opportunities as a higher draft pick, but to me, that was one thing I asked organizations as they talked to me about getting drafted. “Does this number play a role in how you guys treat me?” It is easy for them to say no, but so far i feel like they have given me the opportunity and chances to go out there and prove that I could succeed. They have left it up to me.
I’ve used it as a motivator knowing i didn't have all that hype about “this guy was a first rounder” or “we’ve given this kid this much money let’s give him this many chances”. That’s in the past. It was one draft. That’s what they thought of me then, and hopefully I’ve changed their mind a little bit. I’m myself now, not a 40th rounder.
VEB: You’ve been primarily a fastball slider pitcher on your way up, would you still characterize your game that way? Do you have a preference. Anything you are working on?
AR: Obviously, I prefer my fastball because that is a pitch that will never go away. It’s a pitch you have to be able to throw for a strike. I have a cutter in the works--which they tell me I tend to use it a bit too much and throw my curve not enough. I have a changeup--I’m starting to get really comfortable here in the Fall League--that i want to take with me to the next year and be successful with it.
VEB: You are always trying to keep moving up but at the same time work on different things Is that a difficult balance between working on new pitchers and just getting the batters out.
AR: Yeah, it can be at times. It’s something I have had trouble with. This past year in Memphis using the curveball to change speeds and being able to trust it is the difficult part. I’m one who wants to compete and compete now and go get outs with what I have. But in the long run if you think about trusting the process and what this pitch is going to bring forth, it helps you realize I need this pitch. Even if you throw it just 10% of the time that’s going to help you.
VEB: Who have been your biggest influences, in or outside of the game who have helped you get to where you are today?
AR: I’d say my family. I’m very family oriented. We are very close. It comes from keeping me motivated and supporting me and doing all these things that have guided me to who I am and led to where I’m at. That‘s my parents, Jorge and Nereyida, and then my oldest brother, Roberto. He is always a phone call away and always sits there and listens and teaches me things outside and inside the game.
My older brother jorge has been in the game and he’s one when it comes to mechanics or a baseball thing, he’s one i can I can count on. My younger brother I’m just trying to be a good example for him--he’s out there playing college ball--just touching base every now and then with our struggles and success. Having them around and talking to them on a good basis is great to have. I also have the support of my fiance. All of the support system makes this difficult game not so stressful and I’m able to enjoy the game a little bit more.
VEB: Do you spend time with the other Caridnals players in Arizona?
AR: I’m rooming with Oscar Mercado and Edmundo Sosa. We commute and make the drives every day to the field and hang out at the field and off the field. As far the guys in different organizations, hung out with them a couple times, very shortly. We met up with some guys from the agency who are on the same team and had a wiffle ball game the other day and kind of relaxed and talked an watched some football. You have a bit of time here to kind of relax. You aren’t just at the field for five-six hours--actually we still kind of do that--but not like in the season with a night game and then a day game.
VEB: Are you watching the playoffs? Anybody you are rooting for?
Yes. Right now, I really like how Houston is playing (Ed. note: this was on Monday). Not sure if I should be saying this but Houston and the Dodgers are both fun to watch. The whole playoff season is fun to watch. It’s been back and forth and you see all this great talent play the game, and play it with such a high intensity with all these fans. I’d love to be in that situation and get to experience it. Even experiencing it on tv, I get goosebumps in watching some of these games.
Thanks again to Arturo.