Reyes entered the 2016 season as the Orioles #4 prospect after an impressive 2015 campaign that saw him hit 27 doubles, four triples and five bombs in 305 ABs in the South Atlantic League. 2016 has been a bit of a different story for Reyes after starting the season at High A Frederick. He is currently struggling along at a .227 clip and has seen his OPS drop to .620 from .774. The plus raw power is still there and he boasts athletic actions for having such a large frame. He has some baby fat on the frame and I think he may still be finding his coordination.
He has a good deal of hip travel in his swing and his head tends to move a lot while the pitch is traveling. His weight ends up out front, and the bat drags a bit causing him to get beat inside with average velocity. Some of what he showed this past week I have to assume is him pressing and trying to do too much after a disappointing first half. He is, after all, still just 19 years old. His numbers are down and he is not doing as much damage, however it’s not like he is suddenly swinging and missing at much higher rate. Through only eight more plate appearances than he had in all of 2015, he has two fewer strikeouts and one more walk. So I think he is seeing the ball, but not positioning himself to get the barrel out front and allow his power to translate.
The breaking balls tend to get better the higher the level and his lean out over the plate may be an attempt to better cover the outer third of the plate…which in turn makes him vulnerable to the fastball in. In four ABs vs. Carolina on 7/26, he had his bat broken in two of those ABs by average velocity running in on his hands. I did not get to see him last year, but my guess would be that he probably had some similar issues with the mechanics last year as well, but he had a larger margin for error at the lower level.
Defensively, Reyes was not overwhelming. Yes, he moves well for his size and is athletic, but the feet tend to get heavy and he requires a large amount of effort to catch and throw on the move. He has at least an average arm, but gets very deliberate and by aiming the routine throws, he sees his accuracy suffer. The hands look good – he is a strong kid and secures the ball – so my guess would be that the majority of his 16 errors this year are of the throwing variety. I think there is room for him to improve as he finds some coordination, and as he matures physically the mobility should improve. That said, my impression is still that he will have to move off of third base at some point in the not too distant future.
Being trade season and all, it’s only natural to wonder if he could get moved in the Orioles’ attempt to make additions to their pitching staff. However, I would have to think Reyes’ trade value is not what it was in the spring. Staying in High A all season is a good sign that Baltimore is still quite high on this kid and believes that he will make the adjustments, so even with his struggles I wouldn’t expect them to sell low.