Just How Good Can Alex Reyes Be (Now That He’s Made His ’16 Debut)?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was easy to forget about Alex Reyes, as he waited for his 50 game suspension to wrap up.  That finally has come, as he made his season debut yesterday at Triple-A with the type of results we would’ve expected:

4.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 8 K

It took him 85 pitches as he struggled with his command, but having missed nearly two months of action that was to be expected.  In fact all 3 walks came within the first seven batters (though he did also hit a batter to lead off the third inning).  That’s going to come around, at least we hope.  One of the premier pitching prospects in the league, his control has always been the biggest question facing him (4.6 career BB/9 entering the year).

After the start Reyes was quoted by MILB.com (click here for the article) as saying:

“It was tough to get in a rhythm today,” Reyes told MLB.com. “I felt like I didn’t throw enough strikes, but my fastball was explosive and I threw some pretty good changeups. I couldn’t really find a good rhythm with my breaking ball, but I’ll work on it during my next start and it should come back.”

There is hope that he’ll put it together, and potentially quickly.  Just look at what some people were saying about him prior to the season:

“You still have to believe that his command and control will improve, but his extreme athleticism and smooth delivery points to high probability that it will happen.  He has ace future potential.” – Rich Wilson, Prospect 361

“Command and control have been Reyes’ biggest obstacles, but he’s improved tremendously over the past couple of seasons, particularly in terms of his fastball command. If his progress continues, it won’t be long before big league hitters will have to try and figure him out.” – MLB.com

When you look at some of the names who were in the lineup the overall results from his 2016 debut are even more impressive:

  • Preston Tucker
  • J. Reed
  • Jon Singleton

Those are some quality hitters (though strikeout prone), and Reyes made it look fairly easy.  There’s no questioning the upside potential, as he could quickly emerge as one of the elite starters in the league.  We ranked him as the second best pitching prospect in the league prior to the season, behind only Lucas Giolito), and #6 overall.  At the time we said:

Reyes reached Double-A last season and while he’s going to need a little bit more time to develop, there’s little question about how high his upside is. He showed significant strikeout stuff last season, though he has yet to truly find his control (strikeout rate // walk rate):

  • High-A (63.2 IP) – 13.57 // 4.38
  • Double-A (34.2 IP) – 13.50 // 4.67

With a fastball that routinely reaches triple digits and a curveball that’s lights out, it’s just a matter of Reyes developing his third offering as well as finding consistency in the strike zone. It should happen, and fairly quickly. It’s not impossible that he makes a significant impact this season, though in 2017 may be much more likely.

It’s not like the Cardinals won’t need help in the rotation.  As it is their starters are in the middle of the pack in terms of ERA (4.24), and it’s not like Jaime Garcia has been a pillar of health throughout his career.  At this point it’s a matter of when, not if, Reyes arrives.  If he can find his control he will likely come quickly, and make a significant impact in the process.

Preseason Grade – A
Current Grade – A
Upside Grade – A+

Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Baseball Reference, Prospect 361

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