Yesterday our in-house scout, IJR, got his first look at a couple of baseball’s hottest pitching prospects: Alex Reyes (Cardinals) and Dennis Santana (Dodgers). The game was in the AAA Pacific Coast League, as the Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals) faced off against the Oklahoma City Dodgers (Dodgers). Here are IJR’s notes from the game:
Alex Reyes (6’3″, 175 – RHP – 23 years old)
Alex Reyes stands 6’3″ and athletic; clearly not heavy but over his listed 175 pounds. He began the game with a 96 MPH fastball and followed it with 7 as good or better, eventually retiring the lead-off hitter on a fly ball to right. He throws downhill but at times with effort, overthrowing some fastballs early before settling in during the second and eventually dominating the evening. But that arm and that stuff! Despite a walk in the first, he allowed only one hit in the 3rd and at one point 9 K’s in a row, settling into 13 K on the night.
Reyes has the best stuff in the minors and this might be his last game on the farm. If he doesn’t get his walk rate down, he could struggle to get through the 5-6 inning mark in Saint Louis. But he could be a #1 SP and at worst an elite closer, and I won’t bet against the Cardinal’s devil magic. At his worst he’ll still average over 1 k per inning, his stuff is that elite and barring injury, warrants as much projection as any young pitcher in years.
Dennis Santana (6’2″, 160 – RHP – 22 years old)
Dennis Santana also struggled with fastball command early, running the count 3-1 before a get-me-over fastball was served through the six hole, one of four hits in the first. Santana throws a 2-seam fastball with sink, a solid change-up, and plus curve. He also displayed some mechanical issues, struggling with his release point through the jumble of arms and legs he throws at the hitters.
Santana left several pitches over the plate in the first, both the fastball and breaking pitch variety. Memphis did not miss any of them, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. He is also slow to the plate, allowing two SB in the first. While only walking one (two on the night), there were several heavy counts and non-competitive pitches, throwing 33 (19 strikes 14 balls) pitches before ending the first on a 350 foot out to center.
Santana is only 21 years old and recently promoted to AAA after striking out over 12 per inning through 38 innings in AA. He didn’t have a big fastball and didn’t have the command to slip through tonight. His walks per nine have been across-the-board over his career, at times over 6 per nine and as low as 2.3, and 3.26 in AA before moving up in class. His K’s per nine have always been above 1 per inning, so if he can throw strikes he should be able to find a home in a major league pen. His mechanics reminded me of Jesse Chavez, with a better fastball but less control.