The St. Louis Cardinals have announced that top prospect Alex Reyes will complete his 50-game suspension this weekend and will start Sunday for the Memphis Redbirds.
It’s welcome news for Cardinals fans eager for a boost of any sort to a team that seams to be mired in malaise.
Reyes was expected to knock on the door of the major league clubhouse at some point during the 2016 season. But he ended up in the doghouse instead after getting busted during a drug test for the presence of marijuana in his system.
It could have been worse. If it was a PED red flag, Reyes’ entire future would be in doubt. As it stands, he got some tough love about taking his job more seriously -- and at least acted as if he is quite contrite.
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Reyes could be a big boost to a St. Louis rotation that has struggled much more than expected with the loss of Lance Lynn for the season to elbow surgery and that has seen ace Adam Wainwright struggle for the first month and a half with a lack of command and control.
Not to put too much on the kid. But he has the stuff to be an instant ace. According to MLB.com’s Prospect Watch:
Ever since Reyes joined the Cardinals organization by moving to the Dominican Republic from New Jersey and circumventing the Draft in 2012, he's had future frontline starter written all over him. Reaching Double-A and excelling in the Arizona Fall League in 2015 has him much closer to fulfilling that potential, though a 50-game suspension for marijuana use put a damper on the year.
Assuming it's not a long-term issue, the suspension shouldn't derail Reyes for long. The big right-hander has serious swing-and-miss stuff, with a fastball that touches the mid-90s consistently and can hit triple digits to complement a devastating power curveball. Unlike some young pitchers, Reyes is willing to throw his changeup and understands the value of having it to make his two plus offerings better. Though it's behind the other two, it should be Major League average in time.
I’m still not convinced the oft-injured Wainwright isn’t dealing with a shoulder issue. But he continues to deny any physical issues.
While it usually takes a player a long time to get back up to speed before a long layoff, Reyes has been pitching regularly at extended spring training and the Cardinals say that he’s ready to drop into a game and perform immediately.
It would be awesome to see Reyes become a young phenomenon who ignites his team a la Dwight Gooden in the 1980s. While that may be too much to ask, he certainly has the potential to be the Cardinals’ best option as a rotation addition should one of the current starters suffer an injury.
Otherwise, what team can’t use a fireballing hurler with swing and miss stuff in its bullpen?
And what team can’t generally use something or someone to get excited about?