We see so many good, hard-throwing pitchers in our minor leagues today, that we’re almost inundated with high-90s fastballs and dazzling breaking balls. No joke: of the top 20 prospects on the MLB.com Top 100 Prospect List, 8 of them are young, high-ceiling pitchers with plus velocity and plus breaking balls. As we see the trend of pitchers going from Wainwright-esque, Halladay-like finesse guys to flame-throwing beasts in the mould of Jose Fernandez and Noah Syndergaard. The list goes on and on, including guys like Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar of the Indians; Yordano Ventura on the Royals and Nathan Eovaldi on the Yankees.
While most of us ole baseball faithfuls know for a fact that fastball velocity is sweet and flashy, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee Major League success: just ask Braves’ Mike Foltynewicz, who’s not exactly dominating with a 3.67 ERA in 9 starts. Most of us know that to dominate in the bigs, a pitcher needs command, the change of speeds, a preferably a nasty slider or curveball to change eye levels and to get swings and misses. Those things are what the great Jose Fernandez has, dominating on the big stage every fifth day and making Major League hitters look very foolish.
Jose Fernandez, most people know, is extremely nasty. The kind of ace that every team would (not literally) kill for. According to Fangraphs, Jose Fernandez averages, this year, 95 mph on the heater and touches 99. Pair that up with the unhittable slider/curveball (spinning and and breaking like a demon while coming in at a nasty 83). To top it all off, Fernandez has developed Kershaw-esque command (5.13 K/BB ratio). No wonder he’s so good.
What if I told you that there is an amazing arm currently in the minors that reminds me so much of the great Jose Fernandez?
Alex Reyes of the St. Louis Cardinals, the New-Jersey-born right-hander who moved to the Dominican Republican as a teenager for a more lucrative international free agent deal, is exactly the kind of hard-throwing ace-in-waiting that scouts dream about.
With a fastball that reaches 101 (ya, 101) in game action, a hard curveball that makes hitters look foolish, and a low-90s changeup, Reyes has cemented himself as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. While his command and maturity level have to be improved on, Reyes is a hard worker and his talent just jumps off the page. While his AAA stats at Memphis haven’t been off-the charts (4.35 ERA, 1.35 WHIP), Reyes has struck out 13.28/9IP. Furthermore, if his Futures Game showing was in the indication of his abilities and all that translates to the big league level, watch out, MLB hitters.
I mean, just look at his effortless delivery, easy arm action powering that triple-digit fastball with rise and a curveball with plus velocity and depth. He’s big guy, as well, standing at 6’3″ and 175 lbs, but the weight might be a bit inaccurate as his frame looks wrong and solid.
While Reyes arguably still needs maturation and development, Cardinals fans are no doubt very excited that he will soon be joining the likes of Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez in a dynamic rotation.