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Moving On Up: Alex Reyes

The Cardinals are calling up their top prospect in the midst of a hotly contested race for the second Wild Card slot. What sort of role can Reyes play down the stretch?

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Early this afternoon, the Cardinals announced that top prospect had received his call to the show, and would be active for this evening's game against the Reds. This move coincided with Michael Wacha being placed on the disabled list, though nothing further has been expounded upon as of yet. There have been rumblings for quite some time that Reyes could be called up to help out in the bullpen, but something more could be afoot. Before I get ahead of myself, here is what Jason Hunt wrote about the 21-year-old in our Cardinals top ten prospects post:

Reyes went the unusual route of moving from New Jersey to the Dominican Republic in order to get better exposure, and it worked. He signed with the Cardinals in 2012 for just under $1 million. He has moved very quickly through the minors, reaching AA as a 20 year old this past season and posting elite strikeout totals (151 in 101 innings) while doing so. He was also sent to the Arizona Fall League this year, but only made four starts after being shut down, as it turned out, for a 50-game suspension for marijuana use. The suspension might make him more likely to debut in 2016, as he will be out until late May, and could help limit his innings for use later. Reyes is one of the few pitching prospects in the minors with true ace upside, capable of providing elite strikeout totals on the strength of three potential plus pitches. He still needs to work on his command, but he can still be a mid-rotation starter even with a higher walk total.

Heading into this season, Reyes was widely considered a top-25 prospect, placing as high as 7th overall by Baseball America. He missed all of April and most of May due to his 50 game suspension for marijuana use, but he came back with a vengeance. In his first three starts, he tossed 15 IP, allowing 7 H, 3 R, and 7 BB while striking out 26. While his overall season numbers are less than stellar (65.1 IP, 4.96 ERA, 4.4 BB/9), his stuff remains intact, and he is striking out batters by the boatload - he has 12.8 K/9 as of this writing, and has failed to strike out a batter per inning just once this season. As a result, Baseball America ranked him as the second-best prospect in baseball on their mid-season list, and Baseball Prospectus placed him 8th.

Not much has changed from Jason's pre-season evaluation. Reyes' has top of the rotation stuff coupled with subpar command, and his overall value with be tied closely to the latter (as well as finding consistency with his change-up). He has become more efficient as the season has progressed, perhaps as he works off some rust, so a true breakout may be just around the corner.

In the immediate future, he has everything the Cardinals - and fantasy owners - could want in a reliever. Brenden Schaeffer of reported that Reyes has been told that he will be pitching out of the bullpen "for now," so that is what we have to base his potential value on for now. Schaeffer also indicated that fellow top prospect Luke Weaver may get the call on Saturday, Wacha's next scheduled start, but that's a story for another time.