Recently named one of the top prospects in baseball, expectations are high on Alex Reyes. What can Cardinals fans watch out for? Let’s take a closer look.

After a phenomenal 2016 that helped the Cardinals stay in the playoff race, what can the Cardinals expect next year and beyond from their top prospect?

Alex Reyes will be a phenomenal pitcher, that much is almost certain. But just how good can he be? In 46 innings last season, Alex Reyes pitched to the tune of a 1.57 ERA, striking out 52 batters, while walking 23. Looking at his minor league statistics though shows a drastic overperformance last season.

In AAA, Alex Reyes has a sky-high 4.96 ERA,, and while he struck out a lot of batters, he also walked a lot of batters, although fewer on average than his brief stint in the Majors. In the MLB, his WHIP, hits per 9, and home runs per 9, all declined while his results were better. Next year should he pitch similarly, his incredible ERA may not be so incredible.

Alex Reyes is just 22, though, so while his performance next year may not be as fantastic as some hope, the Cardinals control him until 2023, and we can expect marked improvements every season until then.

It is no secret that Alex Reyes has an absolutely insane curveball. In fact, it may be the reason that he has had control problems thus far in his career. Throwing a curveball that breaks as much as his does has to be hard to reel in, so imagining where that pitch will be in two years when Reyes has worked on his control is frightening for opposing batters. Just look at this pitch.

What is also no secret is Reyes’ fastball. He throws the pitch 63.8 percent of the time, with an average speed over 96 mph. When he needs to he can hit triple digits, and it looks almost effortless; he is not the type of pitcher to throw out his arm.

In the MLB though, Reyes also showed off an effective changeup and slider. A pitcher with two tier-1 pitches, and two fantastic complements show he will be an effective starter for years. Where Michael Wacha had two great pitches and poor complements, Reyes can throw all four pitches and generate a whiff.

So where can he go? If all goes well Reyes can become an elite pitcher in the MLB, forming an incredible duo with Carlos Martinez. What’s crazy is how attainable that is for him. And barring injury, Reyes’ floor is as a solid middle-of the rotation pitcher; there is no way that a pitcher with his stuff can fall very hard. Check out what Carson Kelly tweeted last week:

As the sixth best prospect in the MLB, expectations are incredibly high for Alex Reyes, and they should be. Cardinals fans already view him as our best pitcher, and while that may be a little generous as of now (Carlos Martinez is more established), his potential knows no bounds.

With better control, which will lead fewer walks and hard-hit balls, he may become a superstar the likes of which the Cardinals haven’t seen since Albert Pujols.

Reyes has a veteran catcher behind him, and a top prospect in Carson Kelly waiting in the wings, so he’ll have an incredible supporting cast on his way to superstardom. We’ll find out in April (or sooner) how much he’s improved this offseason, but the real treat will be a year or two down the road. I know I can’t wait.

Photo Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports