Hometown: Elizabeth, New Jersey
Selected 2014 stats
Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)
Message board community (1): Alex Reyes was picked as the #6 prospect in the community vote last year. Among those eligible, he would have been the second best remaining prospect returning. However, he jumped Stephen Piscotty to move into the pole position in this year’s vote.
CariocaCardinal thinks that Reyes has much higher upside than Marco Gonzales. It is just a question of how confident we are that he will reach that upside. HighJump31 called him a strikeout machine.
Blingboy wondered why Reyes should be considered a higher prospect than Rob Kaminsky, while Scadder21 made the point that he has seen both pitch and that Reyes’ advantage is his arm strength and stamina. Wileycard, not to be dismissed, cannot understand the love for Reyes when he walks around five batters per nine innings.
Scadder21 thinks Reyes has the makings of a MLB caliber curveball. He also commented that if you are looking for a pitcher to build a rotation around in six years, you look at the big, strong, sturdy guy with the big arm with good stamina.
DTFlush234 really summed it all up saying that Reyes has stuff to anchor a rotation. If the mechanics can become consistent along with improved control/command, he could become one of the top starting pitching prospects in all of baseball. - Jeremy Byrd
Derek Shore: Reyes shot onto the Cardinals prospect radar in the summer of 2013, enamoring everyone with his smooth delivery, a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, a devastating breaking pitch, and a feel for a change-up.
2014 was an up-and-down season for Reyes. After dominating in April, he had a shaky May and June, struggling especially with his command. Reyes focused to make more quality pitches instead of trying to be too fine with his stuff, after taking the step back, taking focus of his breaking ball and fastball to learn the changeup. He lost a bit of command with his pitches and add to that, his mechanics often become out of whack. But as he threw the off-speed pitch more, the development really started to show. For him to be a big-league starter, he needs to have three pitches in his pocket.
In four dominating starts to end the 2014 season for the Chiefs, the 6-foot-4 righty logged a 1.80 ERA. In those 25 innings, Reyes fanned 38 Midwest League batters and walked just six. He increased his ground ball rate and lowered his batting average against.
One of Reyes’ strengths is his easy, loose, repeatable delivery that may lead to improved command and control as the repetitions come and he is able to control his high-octane stuff. His future is still certainly a wild card, as he could go either from being a top-of-the-rotation type of arm, or if his command/control issues can’t be sharpened up, as a bullpen arm. Toward the end of the season, Reyes took huge developmental strides, the kind that could be the launching point for him to break out in a big way in 2015.
There’s still a long road ahead of the 20-year old Dominican, but a potentially bright future in the big leagues and his stuff simply makes him a legit prospect. Expect to see him in Palm Beach next season and if the developmental strides continue, then perhaps Reyes could finish the season at Springfield, though it is less likely.
Brian Walton (2): For me, it was not tough to make a different call from the community and put Gonzales ahead of Reyes. This will almost certainly be Marco’s last appearance on this annual top 40 prospect list and there is no doubt that the lefty is a more polished, Major League-ready pitcher at this point.
Reyes is still very young and inconsistent. He has all the potential to surpass Gonzales down the road, but still has to master three levels of minor league play ahead before he reaches the point at which Gonzales stands today.
Over the course of the 2014 season, Reyes mixed the good with the bad, perhaps with greater peaks and valleys than any other player in the entire organization.
He led all starting pitchers in the Cardinals system with 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings, but his walk rate of 5.0 per nine was second-worst. While he pitched spectacularly at the start and end of the year, in a four-start stretch in late May and early June, he was pounded. In 18 1/3 innings, Reyes allowed 25 runs, 20 earned, on 22 hits for a 9.82 ERA. While he fanned 18, he also issued 15 free passes.
By mid-June, I was among the many worried that Reyes had seemed to hit the wall. He was actually temporarily taken out of the Peoria rotation for a few weeks to catch his breath and do side work.
Perhaps it was the first time that Reyes had tasted adversity. I asked his pitching coach with the Chiefs, former Major Leaguer Jason Simontacchi, what was going on behind the scenes.
“Reyes is a young man, 19 years old, just turned 20 at the end of the season,” Simontacchi reminded me. “I think he realized what he needed to do. Gary came in, Timmy came in, and kept re-iterating the positives. ‘Be patient with your stuff. You are going to be ok. Work with your changeup (and your curveball). You are going to develop that.’”
(“Gary” is Cardinals farm director Gary LaRocque and “Timmy” is Cardinals minor league pitching coordinator Tim Leveque.)
Reyes not only learned the hard way that he had to do more than throw fastballs, he made the in-season commitment to get serious about his secondary offerings.
“And that’s the thing,” Simontacchi continued. “You know, he lost his curveball in the middle of the season because he was so focused on getting that changeup. He went from throwing it about five times a game to 15-20 times a game.”
While Reyes’ stellar August numbers speak for themselves, his pitching coach’s insight on the progress made during the season is enlightening.
“It showed the last four outings,” Simontacchi noted. “He was just a man amongst boys out there. He had an overpowering fastball. He threw that curveball – the kids had no clue what was going on. And when he threw the changeup, it really wasn’t fair.
“It was really enjoyable to watch him progress the whole year - and in those last four games - to watch him pitch,” Simo concluded.
If the Reyes we saw in August is the pitcher we will see regularly going forward in 2015 at Palm Beach and beyond, there will be no stopping him.
Our 2015 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.
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