Cards’ tip pitching awaiting realizes advantages of travel

JUPITER, Fla. • When Cardinals forefather awaiting Alexander Reyes went to a airport, prepared to leave his family, friends, and comparison promenade behind to pursue veteran round by approach of a Dominican Republic, he packaged light yet with a purpose.

He had his glove and his cleats.

He brought a few bats — Reyes dreamed of creation it as a shortstop behind afterwards — and usually adequate garments to “live in.” Tucked in with a shirts that fit him was one that didn’t. It was red, had his name and No. 13 on a back, and printed on a front was a group name, “North Elizabeth.” It had been 5 years and a few sizes given he wore a Little League jersey, yet he wanted it with him as he flew south to see if he could make it adult north as a ballplayer.

“Just as a reminder,” Reyes explained. “A pointer to remember since we was going and all it showed me and all a assistance (the coach) gave me.”

On Dec. 2, 2011 — he can recite a date yet postponement — Reyes over New Jersey, a usually home he’d ever known, to immigrate to a Dominican and his grandmother’s house. He went to get some-more courtesy from scouts and to concentration on baseball, while also substantiating residency and, thus, by-pass baseball’s domestic draft. He returned to Elizabeth, N.J., 13 months after with a $950,000 prerogative from a Cardinals, a new position, a jersey, and a early murmurs of being a subsequent high-power awaiting in a complement abounding with them.

Reyes, now 19, ranks as one of a tip 101 prospects in all of baseball, according to Baseball Prospectus. Last month, Fangraphs.com called a 6-foot-4, 190-pound righty “the best pitching awaiting you’ve never listened of,” and Baseball America already had him ranked as a top-10 awaiting in a Cardinals’ complement and a “next in a prolonged line of potentially winning Cardinals righthanders.” He done his Grapefruit League entrance this open in a cameo, and one Cardinals big-league manager asked to go on a highway for a diversion to see him representation in person.

In a small some-more than dual years, Reyes has left from a actor who had to transport to get beheld to a budding talent bar officials transport to see.

“I usually went over there for an opportunity,” Reyes said. “I didn’t consider we would be this Alex Reyes that everybody thinks we am. we usually went over to try and get a possibility anywhere. we didn’t even consider about a risk. we didn’t have any doubt. It’s kind of how it works in a game, right? If we go in there with doubt you’ll substantially come out with bad results, yet if we go in there with confidence, you’ll many expected have a good outing.”

Born and lifted in New Jersey, Reyes played girl round for a coach, Joe Gutierrez, whom he has memorialized in a tattoo on a inside of his left arm. It was Gutierrez who shabby Reyes and was a categorical reason he brought that girl jersey with him when he left New Jersey median by a propagandize year. Both of his relatives are from a Dominican, and coaches and family he talked to urged him to a go there for baseball. He could concentration on round there, get some-more courtesy there and pull seductiveness from any team, not usually a one that drafted him.

Reyes changed in with his mother’s mother, Flavia Andujar, nearby San Cristobal and bending on with Basilio Vizcaino, a tutor who has represented other prospects. He did not go to prom, he did not connoisseur with his friends, and he is now holding online courses to finish high school.

During a diversion early in his year abroad, Reyes’ group ran out of pitching. He had pitched in high propagandize and offering to pierce from third bottom to a pile to help.

After one outing, it was transparent he didn’t need a bats he packed.

“They said, ‘Stick to pitching,’” Reyes smiled.

That March, dual years ago, a Cardinals’ executive of general scouting, Moises Rodriguez, perceived a call from a internal executive who urged him to fly to a Dominican to see a pitcher. Reyes fit many of a traits a Cardinals seek: jaunty ability, lax and flexible mechanics, arm action, velocity, and he showed a pointy violation ball. He had a tender materials of a starting pitcher. At his age — both afterwards during 17 and now — a risk is towering and a spectrum of formula is far-reaching since so many variables figure a pitcher and a immature male as he matures. But a monument of chosen pitchers creates a intensity prerogative value it.

The Cardinals offering Reyes a agreement that initial day, yet he wouldn’t be authorised to pointer for another 9 months.

The initial offer was in a low 6 figures, and while it wasn’t adequate to get an agreement it done transparent a Cardinals’ interest.

“We saw a physically appealing child with super-high projection, a lot of athleticism,” Rodriguez said. “You start meditative about a earthy projection — that is a outrageous cause for what we do — a approach a round was entrance out of his hands, a feel he had for 3 pitches. You start going by that practice and it’s, man, we could have something good here.”

The Cardinals brought Reyes to their Dominican academy for a closer look. Rodriguez, who has a residence in New Jersey, called some of his friends in a area to accumulate information on this relocated teen as a seductiveness intensified.

Reyes described a Cardinals’ early purpose with one verb.

“They escalated,” he said.

The initial offer he perceived from a Houston Astros was $180,000, he said. The Cardinals during one indicate offering $350,000 to adult a bidding. The Kansas City Royals offering $800,000. The Cardinals surfaced that with a prerogative he eventually accepted. The negotiations were going on during baseball’s 2012 winter meetings, roughly one year to a date that Reyes hopped on a airplane.

In his initial full veteran season, Reyes went 6-4 with a 3.39 ERA during rookie-level Johnson City. He struck out 68 batters in 58 1/3 innings. This spring, a big-league staff invited him to cover an inning in a split-squad diversion opposite a Mets. The initial major-league diversion Reyes ever attended was during Shea Stadium to see his favorite player, a Cubs’ Sammy Sosa, play a horde Mets. This open he pitched opposite them — in a diversion televised behind in Jersey.

Reyes overwhelmed 96 mph with his fastball. He showed authority of a drop-down curve, and he authorised dual homers. After a game, he perceived some-more than a dozen texts from a friends, some with photos of him on TV with “Elizabeth, N.J.” by his name.

During a minor-league diversion this spring, Reyes strike 96 mph regularly with his fastball and followed one with a 77 mph curve. More impressively, he invited grounders and diseased contact.

“Alex’s things is identical to (big-league pitcher Carlos Martinez) in that honour usually from a standpoint that we can see it in flashes,” pronounced plantation executive Gary LaRocque. “He has to rise a coherence with a stuff. That’s forward for him. There’s no rush for him.”

There is, however, a push.

The Cardinals intend to start Reyes during low Class A Peoria, where he will be one of a younger pitchers in a Midwest League. They wish him to open as partial of a six-man revolution so that he has a feel for a full-season club’s report and challenge. It will be an assertive promotion, like Martinez and catcher Carson Kelly had before him.

It won’t be a initial time Reyes has relocated, prepared for whatever awaits.

The jersey will fit when he gets there.

“You’ve got to learn how to live divided from home … and it was a tough commencement yet it was beneficial,” Reyes said. “I competence finish adult this deteriorate in State College (Pa.) or who knows. You have to know that there’s something forward of we that you’re going to have to quarrel for. You can’t let whatever is forward of we mangle you. You’ve got to pull on, mangle a barrier, or we won’t go anywhere.”

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