Alex Reyes

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Alexander Reyes

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Alex Reyes was considered one of the top prospects in baseball entering the 2016 season.

He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the St. Louis Cardinals on December 3, 2012, then was assigned to the Johnson City Cardinals of the Appalachian League to start his pro career in 2013. He went 6-4, 3.39 in 12 starts that first year and struck out 68 in 58 1/3 innings. He had another good season with the Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League in 2014, going 7-7, 3.63 in 21 starts. He again displayed an excellent strikeout rate, with 137 K's in 109 innings. He truly emerged as a top-rank prospect in 2015, as he was 5-7 but with an outstanding 2.56 ERA in 21 starts between the Palm Beach Cardinals and Springfield Cardinals (he also made one start with the GCL Cardinals on a rehabilitation assignment). He regularly hit 100 mph on the radar gun with his fastball that season, having put some muscle on his lanky 6'3" frame since signing his first contract, leading to a total of 151 strikeouts. He was named the Cardinals' Minor League Pitcher of the Year, an honor shared with Austin Gomber.

He suffered a setback that fall while playing in the Arizona Fall League after the minor league season, as he was suspended for 50 games for being tested positive for a banned substance. As a result, he did not begin his 2016 season until May, but in spite of his belated start, he was named to play in the 2016 Futures Game, starting for the World team at Petco Park on July 10th even though he was born in the United States. He pitched 1 2/3 innings, and while he gave up a pair of extra-base hits - a triple by Alex Bregman and a double by Ryon Healy - he did not give up any runs and struck out four batters while flashing his outstanding stuff. He was promoted to the Show on August 9th, taking the mound in the 9th inning of a 7-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds; he had been called up to replace Michael Wacha, who was placed on the disabled list that day. He did not disappoint fans as he hit triple digits on the radar gun, but also showed some nice secondary pitches, including a 79 mph curveball that completely froze Adam Duvall. In 12 games, including 5 starts, he posted an excellent ERA of 1.57 over 46 innings, to go along with a 4-1 record and 52 strikeouts. This excellent debut had the Cards counting on him as a key member of their pitching staff in 2017, but just as spring training opened on February 14th, an MRI revealed a complete tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery and putting him out for the year. The injury also meant that he would miss the 2017 World Baseball Classic, for which he was on the roster of the Dominican Republic national team.

Reyes made it back to the majors at the end of May 2018, starting a game against the Milwaukee Brewers on May 30th. However, he lasted just 4 innings and while he allowed no runs, he was taken out of the game with a strained latissimus dorsali muscle and immediately went back to the disabled list. He had to undergo surgery, wiping out the remainder of his season. He had been very unlucky on the injury front, but kept it in perspective in light of what his two-year old daughter, Aleyka, had gone through. She had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer, when she was five months old and managed to beat the disease through chemotherapy. In 2019, he made the Cards' opening day roster as a reliever, but gave up 5 runs in 3 innings over his first 4 outings to be sent back to AAA. After stretching him out a bit, the Cards moved him back to a starter role with the Memphis Redbirds, but on April 25th, he broke a finger in his glove hand after punching a wall in frustration following a disappointing outing. He was placed on the injured list. He did not return to the majors that year.

He finally managed to return for an extended stretch in 2020, the season that was shortened to 60 games by the Coronavirus pandemic. He pitched 15 times, but only once as a starter, logging 19 2/3 innings, striking out 27 batters while going 2-1, 3.20. He gave up an equal number of hits and walks - 14 - that season. He pitched in the postseason for the first time after the season, making 2 appearances and pitching 3 1/3 innings as the Cardinals lost to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card Series. In 2021, he earned a promotion, being named the Cardinals' closer at the start of the season. He was still walking too many batters, but few of them scored, and by mid-May had obtained 2 wins and 11 saves in 18 outings. He walked 17 batters in his first 20 innings, but with just 8 hits allowed, this had resulted in just one run for an ERA of 0.45. He was named an All-Star for the first time and got to pitch in the game, played at Coors Field on July 13th, then on July 17th, he converted his 24th consecutive save in as many opportunities to break a record held by LaTroy Hawkins for most consecutive successful save opportunities from the start of a career.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NL All-Star (2021)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jenifer Langosch: "Cards' Reyes will undergo Tommy John surgery: No. 6-ranked prospect in MLB to miss season", mlb.com, February 15, 2017. [1]
  • Jenifer Langosch: "Reyes could return as Cardinals closer", mlb.com, February 2, 2018. [2]
  • Jenifer Langosch: "Back on mound, Reyes calls baseball 'a blessing': Touted prospect missed nearly all of past 2 seasons", mlb.com, February 13, 2019. [3]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Cardinals longtime No. 1 prospect Alex Reyes vows to reclaim status", USA Today, March 5, 2019. [4]
  • Joe Posnanski: "Despite optimism, Reyes dealt arduous challenge: Cards phenom no sure thing to reach stardom after Tommy John", mlb.com, February 16, 2017. [5]
  • Zachary Silver: "Reyes' MLB record caps series win for Cards: 26-year-old righty converts 24th consecutive save to start his career", mlb.com, July 18, 2021. [6]

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