By Joe Messineo
The Cardinal faithful is waiting with heightened awe for phenom Alex Reyes to join the club. When it happens, it’s like a kid running home from the store opening the five packs of baseball cards hoping to get the George Brett All Star card (I guess in my day!) .
This past weekend at the Futures Game, the 21-year-old Reyes flashed his talents and did not disappoint. He flashed a 101 mph fastball that looked like it was being flipped towards the plate with the ease of a young magician and mixed in a changeup and curveball that looked like a weighted wiffle ball landing at the knees like a grenade.
All of this creates an anticipation that makes a baseball fan purge his appetite for the time when Reyes takes the mound at Busch Stadium and unleashes torment on hitters. What if he is called up before he is ready?
In the middle of this hysteria, one must still be patient with a talent like Reyes. The Cardinals are up and down and all around in the 2016 season. Reyes will not have an immediate impact that will push the team to the head of the NL Central.
Reyes hasn’t exactly mastered the minor league level. In nine starts for Memphis, Reyes has a 4.35 earned run average and has averaged 4.2 innings in those nine starts. He has a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio, but still needs to be more consistent, and is probably just not there to make a jump to the big club, yet.
This isn’t a warning sign to cause you to worry. It’s a mere reminder that these things take time. Reyes has only made 17 starts above the Class A ball level, so why rush the Reyes? Sure, Reyes is old enough to purchase alcohol but that doesn’t mean he is ready to face Major League talent. Or is he?
Look at his last start. Reyes pitched 6.2 innings, striking out 9 and walking just 2 with three hits allowed. The 103 pitches were the most he has thrown this year and the outing represented his longest at AAA. Is he making strides that will start spinning the wheels for a trip north? Or does he need to repeat the fourth of July outing a couple more times? The question will begin its launch towards General Manager John Mozeliak as the year progresses.
If Reyes makes it up to the Cards in 2016, it will almost surely be for the bullpen. If a Cardinals starter gets hurt, Reyes’ teammate Mike Mayers should get the call. The 24 year old has a lower WHIP, batting average against, and earned run average. Reyes can help a struggling bullpen at some point. That’s where his 2016 mark may be made.
Alex Reyes must be ready and management needs to have that confidence that he is ready for the big leagues. No error in being patient with this stud. For every urge to call this kid up and see how he fares in the late innings, a wise man on my other shoulder reaffirms it’s not time yet. Why rush a 21 year old phenom? Once released, there’s no going back. There’s only one debut and the adversity can be fierce in the big leagues.
Joe Messineo is a former Division I pitcher with experience writing for a number of different sports blogs including No Coast Bias, Last Word on Sports, Sports Distillery, and Sports Central.