TCN 2014 Cardinals Prospect #7: Alex Reyes

The Cardinals' big international signee made a strong 2013 professional debut at Johnson City. Much more from the talented right-hander is expected ahead. Today's article is FREE!

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
NA RHS 8/29/1994 6-3 185 R R 2012 FA

Hometown: Elizabeth, New Jersey

Selected 2013 stats

JC 6 4 3.39 2.74 12 12 0 58.1 54 26 1 28 68 0.74 0.249 0.349

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (5): Alex Reyes shot onto the Cardinals prospect radar with his fine performance as one of the youngest pitchers on the Johnson City pitching staff in 2013. The community ranked him fifth in the entire system in his first year of ballot eligibility.

The Cardinals paid a lot to sign Reyes out of the Dominican ($950,000) and were so encouraged by how he looked in extended spring training that they sent him straight to Johnson City instead of the Gulf Coast League to start his professional career. There, he proved he was advanced as a pitcher.

The youngest and probably the most talented player on the entire Johnson City roster led the staff with 68 strikeouts in only 58 1/3 innings pitched. Though he had one of the higher WHIPs of the starting pitchers, Reyes did a very good job of avoiding the long ball, with only one total home run allowed. That is very notable given his stuff and age at that level.

From reviewing video of Reyes, I observe that he has a smooth delivery that he can repeat by pitch. Reyes really sells every one of his secondary pitches with the same arm speed as his fastball, which is extremely impressive at that age.

Reyes has a plus fastball in the low-to-mid 90s with a lot more juice expected to be coming as he bulks up his tall and lanky athletic frame. He also throws a big devastating breaking ball that can make hitter look helpless when it is on and he has some feel for a change-up for which there remains a lot of time for improvement.

Once Reyes gains consistency and command, hitters will have to beware. He has been given the total package to become the next top pitching prospect in the Cardinals system - if not elite pitching prospect in the game. In fact, he seems to already be getting a lot of attention nationally.

The Cardinals envision Reyes as a potential plus talent down the road. I don't think he will need to spend all of 2014 in the Midwest League. It is very possible Reyes' path could be very similar to Carlos Martinez's path to the majors. It is going to be a pleasure to watch his development and see how fast he moves up through the system. - DTFLush234

Brian Walton (7): The community is really fired up about Reyes and I am, too, though not enough to place him ahead of both of the Cardinals' first-round left-handers from the 2013 draft, as they voted. To be honest, it was a judgment call, and I cannot argue with firm conviction against any relative grouping of the three.

With limited track records to go on, the tie-breaker for me at this early stage was simply handedness. The two lefties, if equally good, are a scarcer commodity. Major League organizations can seemingly never find enough left-handers to satisfy their needs.

That is not to say that I am concerned about Reyes in any way. With the expected graduation of Carlos Martinez and Oscar Taveras off this top prospect list in 2014, I expect Reyes to become the new heir apparent as the best minor leaguer to hail from the Cardinals international program as well as the top right-handed pitching prospect in the system.

Granted, Reyes never pitched in the Dominican Summer League, but his bonus came from the international signing pool. He debuted in the US for only one reason – he would have been too good for the competition, either in the DSL or even the Gulf Coast League. Remember that Martinez had to spend one summer pitching in the academy, the year after he had to sit out on suspension for his identity irregularity.

In reality, Reyes could be the best of both worlds. Having grown up in the USA, he does not have the same acclimation issues as teens who call other lands home. Yet, Reyes has lived and worked in the Dominican as well and benefited from a year of pre-draft baseball-only focus there that US youngsters cannot devote.

To accomplish what Reyes did in 2013 at his age and his level of competition in his professional introduction is extraordinary. Look at his FIP and BABIP in the table above and you can see how his Appalachian League performance could have been even better.

Still, Reyes was our obvious choice as the top starting pitcher at Johnson City. After all, only one starter in the entire system had a higher strikeout rate and his name is still ahead in this top 40 countdown.

Looking into 2014, there is a reasonable chance that by summer, Reyes will be starting in the full-season Midwest League while still a teenager. Martinez did it. Shelby Miller did it. And Reyes has what it takes to work his way into that class.

In his own words: In October from instructional league camp, Reyes spoke about his path taken to the Cardinals organization, his 2013 season and more. Click here for our interview, exclusively for subscribers to The Cardinal Nation.

Our 2014 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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