As we’ve been counting down to the Top 50 prospects in the Padres system this week, it’s apparent that the strength in the organization is its pitchers. Through trades, the draft, and international spending, there are lots of things to be excited about on the pitching side. On the offensive side, however, things are still a work in progress.
There’s a lot to dream on with Fernando Tatis Jr., Luis Urías, and Josh Naylor, who are all having solid seasons. Urías, however, is the oldest of that group, and he turned 20 at the beginning of the month. A lot can happen between Fort Wayne and San Diego, and while the system is in good shape, it’d still be nice if there was a little more going on near the top half.
Enter Franmil Reyes.
With Franchy Cordero graduating from the minors (even if he gets sent down when Manuel Margot returns, we’ll consider him a major league talent at this point), Reyes and Urías become the most interesting hitting prospects in the upper minors. Much has been made at this point about Urías – he won the MVP of the Cal League last year, represented his native Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, and has had a great debut in the Texas League this year, earning him All-Star honors. Reyes, on the other hand, has quietly put together a solid season of his own, and doesn’t get nearly the press of the high-profile prospects that are levels below him.
Standing at 6’5” and 240 pounds, Reyes definitely has the size you look for in a slugging corner outfielder. Signed for $700,000 as a 16-year-old back in 2012, the young Dominican has been a serious middle of the order threat for the Missions this year. A look at how some of his numbers match up with those around the Texas League:
The rankings aren’t perfect, since it’s the minors and players get promoted, so the counting stats are tough to rely on. Still, they’re included to show he’s fared comparatively – the Texas League isn’t the Pacific Coast League, well known for inflating offensive numbers. What’s pleasing here, obviously, is that he’s found a way to balance his power with his hit tool, hitting almost .300 while slugging a robust .476.
A writeup of him at 2080 Baseball reports that he still has some length in his swing, but has increased his bat speed and been more disciplined at the plate, working more favorable counts. From what I’ve seen in-person, he has average speed on the basepaths and in the field, though Bobby DeMuro opined last year that his arm might limit him to left field (he has only played in right this season).
As with seeming every Padres prospect not named Luis Urías, there are some strikeout to walk ratio issues that follow Reyes.
His strikeout rate seems pretty consistent from year to year, with only a slight improvement in walk rate from a few years ago. Patrick Brewer (@patrickbrewer93) has kept a running total of the K/BB rates for the top Padres prospects, and Reyes’ numbers this year would put him squarely in the middle of the pack, with numbers almost identical to Jorge Oña (22.7% K rate, 7.4% BB rate). It’s probably unlikely that those numbers improve much as he moves up the ladder, but taking a look at how his OPS has improved year-to-year, he’s certainly doing more with the ball when he puts it into play.
Reyes turns 22 at the beginning of July, and is in the middle of what could the best season of his career. While he may not have the ceiling of some of the bats at the top of our Top 50 Prospect list, it’s safe to say that he’s raised the floor of the type of player we can expect him to be. With Cordero, Margot, and Hunter Renfroe among the outfielders who are ahead of him on the organizational ladder, he should be worth keeping an eye on for the near future. I’d expect him to finish up the year with the Missions (including a hopefully deep run into the postseason), and hopefully get a chance to show how that big bat will fare in the PCL next spring.