Name: Angel Reyes
DOB: August 1, 1987
"Going into Spring Training my arm was hurt and I wasn't really ready, and when guys left for the [season leagues] my arm still wasn't 100 percent," Reyes said through the help of Manny Barreda translating. "Then I came down with some back problems and that kind of lingered all season.
"As a result of all that my velocity was good but it wasn't what I'm used to throwing. In my mind it was a rough year but thank God the Yankees are giving me the opportunity to show them I can work and play at a higher level."
Experiencing some shoulder tendonitis in Spring Training, the left-hander couldn't find the mid-90's heat he had a year ago and throwing at a lesser velocity had him trying to be too fine with his location.
The minor aches and pains he had in his shoulder also caused his mechanics to get a bit out of whack and that's when pain started to develop in his back.
"He's still working on his delivery," revealed minor league pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras. "Back problems or whatever it may be, he was not as consistent. There may still be something that bothers him but he doesn't tell us just because he wanted to pitch. Even in Spring Training though, he was not the same Angel Reyes as last year."
Recognized inside the organization as one of their top pitching prospects at the end of 2006, he seemed to pick up right where he left off in his season opener this past season, striking out a season-high nine batters in just 3 1/3 innings for the Charleston Riverdogs.
But as quick as his ascension was, it quickly bottomed out the rest of the way as he posted a combined 5.28 ERA at three different minor league levels.
"You're always disappointed a little bit because he was advancing quickly," admitted Yankees' director of Latin American scouting, Carlos Rios. "It was an awful year for him but he battled some things. I think he really has to learn from this and become better.
"He's a left-handed pitcher with some quality stuff and a good arm. I think his is going to be a big season for him [in 2008] because he has to learn from his struggles this past year. He's putting in a good effort and he comes in and works out everyday on his own too."
Trying to put his injuries and subsequent command issues behind him, he reported to Dominican Instructs feeling the best he had felt in over a year and he believes he'll return to his 2006 form next season.
"I'm confident with my curveball now and I feel great overall," Reyes said upon the conclusion of mini-camp. "I feel I'm where I want to be right now. I'm confident throwing my fastball now and I wasn't confident throwing it earlier in the season. I'm locating my pitches a lot better too. I'm putting my pitches where I want to put them.
"Now I'm fine. My curveball is getting back to the big league curveball I had. My arm is feeling good and I'm getting it [the velocity] up there now. Right now I can throw real well. What I'm hoping for this upcoming season is to be a better pitcher than I've ever been."
Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
Fastball. Sitting consistently in the 92-93 MPH range with his fastball a year ago, Reyes' injuries were quite evident when he was sitting mostly in the 88-91 MPH range this past season. Even when he's healthy however, his command runs extremely hot and cold with his fastball, not just from start to start but from batter to batter.
Other Pitches. Reyes boasts a big league cureveball that ranges from 75-78 MPH and can be a true plus pitch at any given moment, but like his fastball command, it can be quite inconsistent. He rounds out his arsenal with a developing changeup that has regressed a bit and acts more like a batting practice fastball at times, and is more of a 'show-me' pitch currently.
Pitching. When he's on, he's easily one of the best pitching prospects in the organization, but he isn't consistently in a groove. He has two swing-and-miss pitches with his plus fastball and [at times] plus curveball, but the command of those pitches varies immensely, even in the same inning. He has walked quite a few batters in his young career thus far, not from fearing opposing batters, but from inconsistent command. Even when healthy though, when he misses the zone, he misses up in the zone and that causes him to get hit too frequently. When he pitches in the lower-half of the zone consistently, he has the look of a big league pitcher.
Projection. When healthy, Reyes has real nasty stuff. He'll need to prove that his injury-filled season was more of a fluke. If he can rediscover his old form, he has two plus big league pitches and the confidence to throw them in any count. His shaky command though hazes his big league projection. Smaller in stature, he has the power arm to project as a possible left-handed setup man, but his arsenal is also deep enough to possibly become a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter someday. Whichever role he winds up fulfilling down the road, his potential to reach the big leagues in any capacity will solely depend on his ability to locate his pitches.
ETA. 2011. Reyes' lost year in 2007 has pushed his timetable back a year. It would take a huge Spring Training to avoid returning to the South Atlantic League with Charleston Riverdogs next season.