There’s something cool, eventful and promising about a hard throwing young pitcher. It’s like hearing about a fireworks show about 30 minutes away. Do you turn the car around to go look or just keep driving hoping to catch one in front of you? The St. Louis Cardinals next phenom is named Alex Reyes, and he is ripping through the minor leagues as we speak. He’s 20 years old(turns 21 on August 29th), throws a fastball that reaches triple digits as easily as you rip open a bag of sugar to pour in your coffee and he’s only going to get better.
Reyes started this season in High A Palm Beach, where he struck out 96 batters in 63.2 innings, compiling an ERA of 2.26 and a WHIP of 1.26. He made the jump to Springfield last month, where he has 39 strikeouts to 12 walks in just six starts(24.1 innings pitched). Going into his August 24th start, Reyes has allowed a single home run yet this season. In his entire minor league career, Reyes has only allowed 8 home runs in over 258.2 innings covering 53 starts. That’s an impressive number. Opponents hit just .216 off him in Palm Beach and AA bats only .176 thus far. The only man who seems capable of beating Reyes at all is his own raw talent. It hasn’t even been fully unleashed yet.
In order to really get to know a talent, you must get a view from the seats. A face to face rendering. For that perspective, I reached out to Springfield Cardinals beat writer Derek Shore(who writes for Scout.com) for his thoughts on the talented young righthander.(You can find Derek on Twitter here).
Shore has seen three of Reyes’ starts with Springfield, including his last two, which were his shortest. “Reyes has often drawn Carlos Martinez comps and for good reasons given both have Dominican roots and signed to a comparable bonuses. I’ve talked to a scout who said Reyes’s arsenal isn’t quite as deep as Martinez’s, but his one-two punch are better than Martinez’s at the same age of 20 years old,” Shore said of the well known comparison between the two fiery young arms in the Cardinals organization.
What exactly does Reyes fire at hitters that makes him so special? Shore had this to say about the kid’s weapons of lumber destruction. “To go with that electric heater(clocking regularly at 101 mph across the league), Reyes has flashed a two-seam fastball in the lower 90’s with a 12-6 hammer. Along with the development of his command and all-important third pitch the changeup, a pitch that the Cardinals seem to have advised for him to throw more will determine his ceiling as a big-league starter.”
Why isn’t this kid already in the Major’s, outside the fact that the Cardinals don’t need him just yet? Shore attaches the slow build to the regular growing pains of a young thrower learning how to pitch. “His struggles at Double-A this season have been tied to overthrowing and working into deep counts a problem that’s hinder his efficiency at times and also a sign of a lack of command because he has a tendency to overdo his pitches. Stuff has been a non-issue, Reyes probably has the biggest right-handed stuff in the minors outside of the Nationals Lucas Giolito.”
Will we see this kid in September when rosters expand? I doubt it, for the simple fact that the Cards bullpen is stacked and that Reyes’ shoulder(which has barked a bit at times this season) may need the rest. If there is a sudden need, this viper whipping phenom will be waiting.
Otherwise, I expect this “freak” to make his debut in St. Louis sometime in 2016. Reyes is the chip that General Manager John Mozeliak wasn’t putting on a table this past July during trade talks. Other teams know this man’s heat will only be leaving jet fuel stains on a jersey containing the birds on the bat. Sorry, NL Central. The St. Louis Cardianals talent well is churning out another cherry red mustang that will make your lineups crack IPad screens and exhaust DVD players for the next couple decades. I’d warn you, but that just wouldn’t cut it.
Whenever people try to put a name tag on the Cardinals’ brand of success, I laugh. Small market team gone big? Mid-market special? Who cares? In the end, Mozeliak and company are just better at their jobs than most front offices and slowly, people are coming to terms with the fact that the National League Pennant chase will roll through the Arch every fall.
Alex Reyes is that big juicy looking steak that the Cardinals haven’t completely cut into yet to see how well it’s been cooked. When they do, the rest of the National League will have nowhere to hide.