On Tuesday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals purchased the contract of 21-year-old top pitching prospect Alexander Reyes from the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. To clear a spot for Reyes on the 40-man roster, the Cardinals transferred catcher Brayan Pena to the 60-day disabled list and placed starting pitcher Michael Wacha on the 15-day disabled list, freeing a spot on the team’s 25-man roster for Reyes to join the major-league squad.
As of now, the Cardinals plan to only use Reyes out of the bullpen. Wacha’s now-vacated spot in the team’s starting rotation will come up on Saturday, and the Cardinals plan to promote prospect Luke Weaver from Triple-A to make that start. For the time being though, the spotlight is on Reyes.
The start of Reyes’ fourth year as a member of the Cardinals’ organization was put on halt by a 50-game suspension he received in November of 2015 due to testing positive for marijuana in the Arizona Fall League. After serving his suspension, Reyes made his first start of this season in late May and made a total of fourteen starts prior to his promotion to majors. In those starts, Reyes posted a 4.96 earned run average in 65.1 innings and managed a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 93:32.
About a month ago, Reyes appeared in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Futures Game, an annual event that allows some of the game’s most talented prospects to showcase their talents. Reyes logged 1.2 innings as a member of the World team and recorded four of his five outs via the strikeout.
Reyes’ pitch selection features a four-seam fastball that averages roughly 96 MPH and has reached velocities of over 100 throughout his tenure in the Cardinals’ farm system. Within the last season, Reyes has incorporated a two-seam fastball into his pitch repertoire. His two-seam fastball serves as a nice complement to his four-seam, as the two-seam allows Reyes to get ahead of batters by inducing weaker and earlier contact in counts than his four-seam typically does. Along with the four- and two-seamers, Reyes possesses a couple of off-speed pitches, including a curveball and changeup. With a much slower speed than his fastballs and significant horizontal movement, the curveball may be Reyes’ most effective pitch to garner swings and misses. His changeup — as is the case with most pitchers that can reach such high speeds consistently — is used to help him throw off the timing of opposing batters.
With Weaver set to be promoted and start for the Cardinals in the upcoming weekend, it’s possible that Reyes’ first promotion to the major leagues may be short-lived. Shall Reyes prove to be a sturdy weapon out of the bullpen within the next few days, however, it seems unlikely that the Cardinals would demote him, especially since their pitching staff has been far from consistent and could use a fresh arm.