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Cardinals Alex Reyes to play winter ball

Alex Reyes assigned to Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Winter Leagues.

On Friday, news broke that Alex Reyes was put on a Dominican Winter League roster. The regular season ends for the league on Thursday which means Reyes may only get one start or opportunity to pitch. Additionally, the talent level sits well below what he faced in the bigs. However, this still is a good opportunity for Reyes to improve. The lower level of pressure may allow him to field test anything he might be working on. Whether he dominates in a few appearances or he gets knocked around remains to be seen. That being said, can the Cardinals expect Alex Reyes to continue a certain level of dominance in 2017?

 

Alex Reyes will show sparks of dominance in 2017. However, expect some growing pains.

No question about it, Reyes can throw and throw hard. His average fastball clocks in at just over 97mph with an rpm usually around 23-2500 rpm. At this rpm, the ball breaks downward less than a fastball with a lower rpm. There are pros and cons to this spin rate. First the pro, the ball will miss more bats causing more strikeouts. However, a huge drawback comes with this rpm, more fly balls which equals more home runs. In his short stint at the end of the season, part of his success came from a very low HR/FB rate. The average rate of the MLB this season ended up at 13%. Reyes managed to defy the numbers and posted a 2%. Come next season, Reyes will not have a rate of 2%. It is nearly impossible to maintain such a low rate for any pitcher. Additionally, he already predisposed to fly ball rates (42% compared to MLB average at 35%). Therefore, the Cardinals can expect an uptick in ERA coming in 2017 due to a higher home run rate.

One area that will be a major cause for concern on opening day is Reyes’s higher than average walk rate. This is even more of a problem considering that an increase in home runs will come inevitably. A high walk rate combined with a higher home run rate would cause for a jump in an ERA. No one should expect Reyes to throw a 1.57 ERA for a whole season. Instead, the Cardinals should expect an ERA closer to league average: my guess 3.85.

There is no doubt in my mind that Alex Reyes has a very high ceiling.

However, he is still a  22 year old rookie. Times will come that Alex Reyes will struggle and times will come that he will flourish. The Cardinals went through the same type of growing pains with Carlos Martinez and look where he is now. There is no telling how the season will go until it happens. However, be excited for the years to come as we all watch Reyes grow.

 

Photo Courtesy Jeff Curry – USA Today

 

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