By Contributing Writer: Chuck Boemmel Jr.
Throughout the 2017 season I will be keeping an eye on 20 year-old, third baseman Jomar Reyes. My reasons are two-fold: first to track his development as a player and secondly because Reyes was the first player I wrote about when I joined Baby Birdland.
Photo: Patrick Cavey
Listed at 6’3” and 220 pounds, Reyes was the youngest everyday player in the Carolina League in 2016. His slash line was .228/ .271/ .336 with 51 RBI, 10 home runs, two triples and 16 doubles in 126 games for the Frederick Keys (Class-A High). Admittedly these numbers are not great and do reflect a regression for Reyes, a regression that can be attributed to both his youth relative to his peers and the fact that 126 games were the most he played in a season as a professional.
Signed as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, Reyes produced the following slash lines:
2014: .285/ .333/ .425, 29 RBI, 4 HR, 2 3B, 10 2B in 53 games
2015: .277/ .336/ .437, 48 RBI, 5 HR, 4 3B, 29 2B in 89 games
These numbers resulted in a #10 prospect ranking in 2014 and a #4 ranking in 2015 for Reyes. Despite the drop in production in 2016 Reyes is listed as BabyBirdland’s #6 prospect, Baseball America’s #8 prospect and MLB Pipeline’s #10 prospect in the Baltimore Orioles organization.
Reyes has raw power and the ability to drive the ball to all fields but is lacking in range and quickness; his defensive footwork needs improvement as well. Most people see a move to first base in Reyes’ future while he has gone on record as saying he would want to play in the outfield if moved from the hot corner.
I anticipate a rebound year in 2017 for Reyes as he grows accustomed to the rigors of full season play and as his body grows physically. A return to his previous offensive numbers is needed to keep Reyes relevant especially if moved to first base. It is well known that first base is covered for the next six years in Baltimore so a power bat will keep Reyes in the discussion. I do not want to see him go the way another first base prospect (Christian Walker) in the organization did (DFA’d to make room on the 40-man roster).
Anticipating he will begin the 2017 season in Frederick, I will be watching Reyes for a return to form, to see how he adapts his game in order to remain a part of the Orioles’ future plans and simply because one never forgets their first.