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Future Redbirds Top 25 Prospects for 2015: #1 - Alex Reyes

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Reyes has the best stuff I've seen from a 20 year old in the Cardinal minors since Carlos Martinez -- in fact, he might even be more dominant in terms of swing and miss ability. Absolutely dominant for most of his sophomore season in the minors, but will command be his undoing?

Acquired: IFA (2012), Dominican Republic; $850,000 bonus

Birthday: 8/29/1994

Age: 20

Minor League Stops in 2014: Peoria (A)

2014 Totals:

IP

ERA

FIP

K%

BB%

GB%

OFB%

HR/OFB%

109.1 3.54 3.16 29.5 13.1 36.4 30.7 7.4


F-R Grades:

(You can find the 20/80 grading primer here)

Fastball

Changeup

Curveball

Command

Pitchability

65/70 55/60 55/70 40/45 45/55

There's just a ton to like about Alex Reyes, summed up really well by Kiley McDaniel over at Fangraphs:

He checks all the boxes as a young power arm, with a projectable 6-foot-3/185 frame, a solid delivery, and easy plus fastball that sits 92-95 and hits 97 mph along with a curveball that flashes plus in nearly every outing. Reyes is still learning the finer points of his craft, with his command and consistency of his off-speed stuff varying start-to-start.

Up to this point, Reyes is nearly the carbon copy of Shelby Miller at this age: Big, dominant fastball, repeatable delivery, and fringe/average secondary stuff.  The difference between the two is that Reyes' curveball flashes plus consistently in starts and there are times where he has full command of everything and looks like a world beater. He's not as consistent with spotting the fastball as Miller was at this stage of his career, which makes him a bit more like Carlos Martinez, albeit with Shelby Miller's frame.

Certainly, this ranking is an upside one, as Reyes has just one full season under his belt in the minors, but he's likely to be at least a #3 starter with a bit more seasoning, with the raw materials that could make him a future ace if everything breaks in the right direction. That's more than you can say for most any other player in the Cardinals farm system at present, with the possible exception of Randal Grichuk who is considerably older and hasn't improved much on his considerable flaws at the plate in either of the last two years.

<iframe width="640" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UF7xI0K87zg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

A few notes on the video:

  • You can see a very good changeup that gets a swing and miss right around the 30 second mark as well as good fastball command.
  • The inconsistency with his breaking ball is on display starting at about 1:10. One gets away that goes over the batter's head, then another than hangs up over the inside of the plate.  Then he throws a good, hard one with solid depth to get the strikeout and end the inning.  Throughout the video you can see him fighting with his curveball, losing a few, casting a few, then finding his release point and throwing a hammer for a strike or a swing and miss.
  • Reyes is tinkering with the start to his windup a little bit as well. He starts out with a short step in the early innings that works into a longer stride toward the side of the mound later on as he gets more comfortable.
  • He struck out 10 and walked 7 in this start, belying the inconsistency that he had for much of the season last year.
You'll see a little more of the same thing here:

<iframe width="640" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UF7xI0K87zg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

As you can see, consistency and command will be the things that will set Reyes back. If he can snap off  his good breaking ball 90% of the time and throw his good changeup 90% of the time, he's a force to reckon with. Until such a time however, he's going to be susceptible to hitters with more advance approaches who are willing to work deeper into counts to get a good strike to hit. In the video's above, hitters do get good wood on the ball once and a while against Reyes when he's in the strike zone -- they aren't able to do much with it, but that will change as he sees better hitters with more game power at the higher levels of the minors.

In his March interview with VEB features writer Joe Schwarz, Reyes talked a bit about his improvement from a season ago:

VEB: Which secondary offering (breaking ball or changeup) do you feel is more effective for you?

AR: As the season progressed, I feel my changeup was more effective, and it helped me get hitters off my fastball. It also helped me get down in the zone with my fastball.

Editor’s note: When asked further about his second-half improvement last season (strikeouts went up, walks went down, and ERA plummeted), this is what he pointed to as the main reason. He stated that Simontacchi helped him "a ton" with his changeup which not only gave him another effective pitch in his arsenal but that it also led to the ability to harness his electric fastball down in the zone.

That leads me to believe that there's a lot of good things ahead for Alex Reyes and that he's going to put the time an effort into making improvements.

2015 Outlook:

Reyes started with Palm Beach, and has looked his dominant self thus far in 20.1 innings this season. As I said on the VEB Prospect Roundtable podcast, I don't think we'll know much more about Alex until we see him against better hitters in AA. The continued struggles with walks are still a concern though, especially since he looked to have ironed out some of those issues at the end of 2014.

Overall Grade: B+