Alex Reyes is a top 10 prospect in baseball, but more recently his name has been linked to a marijuana suspension that’s kept him out of the first 50 games this year. Does the suspension hurt his stock, or can the Cardinals use it in their favor?
|Alex Reyes, RHP|
|2012 International Free Agent||No School (Dominican Republic)|
Reyes was actually born in New York, but moved to the Dominican to bypass the MLB draft and sign at an earlier age. As a result, he received a $950,000 bonus when the Cardinals signed him in 2012.
Reyes owns a high 90s fastball – which touches triple digits often – that he can blow by a lot of guys in the minors. Baseball America rated it 80 on the scouting scale (out of 80) and was only 1 of 3 to receive that score on their top 100 prospects. To go with the heat, he’s worked on a sinker that had good movement and generates a lot of ground balls. He also boasts a good curve and a developing change. The 12-to-6 curve is already above average, and he can use it as an out pitch; the pitch sits in the low 80s. The change is inconsistent; his arm speed provides great deception but he struggles to get regular movement on it; this one sits in the high 80s.
That consistency is because of his release point; he can typically repeat his mechanics, but he has the tendency to over-throw when he loses the release point. He also has the tendency to throw across his body, which could lead to potential injury down the line; most scouts aren’t worried about that though.
While the record hasn’t shown it, Reyes has pretty good numbers. He strikes out a ton of guys and really limits hits. His issue is the command; his walk numbers, while improving, are still pretty high; he did make strides in lowering his walks from 2014 to 2015, and is on pace to lower it further this year.
I think these rates are a little more interesting. This season, a hitter has a 50% shot to get a strikeout or walk against Reyes. His K/9 number is ridiculous this season too.
Reyes was the consensus #1 player in the Cardinals system across every ranking I found. In fact, it wasn’t even close; most of the second place guys were split between a few different options.
Nationally, Reyes made all Top 100 lists and was in the Top 10 in most of them. In the bigger publications, he ranked 7th by Baseball America, 10th by Baseball Prospectus, and XX by Keith Law of ESPN (MLB.com was the exception with him at 11). Even the lesser rankings had him ranked high: 5th by
Reyes left the Arizona Fall League last fall due to his impending suspension for smoking marijuana (suspensions come with the second failed drug test for non-PEDs), which also took him out of the first 50 games of the season. The Cardinals could have bypassed the suspension by adding Reyes to the 40-man roster, but the team felt he needed to feel the repercussions for his actions.
The suspension could be a good thing though. The team was going to try to limit Reyes’ innings this season, as he just cracked 100 for the first time last season. With missing the first 50 games, he’ll be able to pitch the rest of the season without restriction. He could get another stint in the AFL if he comes up a little short in his innings too.
There are 2 realistic outcomes for Reyes – top of the rotation starter or shut-down closer. To become that #1 starter, Reyes needs to get the change up as an average pitch; mixing it with the fastball, sinker, and curve will give him an elite arsenal. If that change stalls out, his fastball and curve are plenty be the anchor at the back of the bullpen.
The near term future for Reyes could be the Cardinals bullpen. While they won’t throw him in high leverage innings, he could get a shot at the long man role that Matt Bowman currently holds; this would get Reyes a few innings a week to adjust to Major League hitters.
A more radical plan could be to put Reyes in the rotation and move a struggling starter out; Michael Wacha could go to Memphis to work on his issues, or someone could be moved to the bullpen.
For now, Reyes will continue to pitch at Memphis, especially after his last outing.