22-year-old starting pitcher Denyi Reyes could be the best-kept secret in the Red Sox farm system. The right-handed hurler isn’t considered a top prospect and isn’t on anyone’s national radar. That said, Reyes has put up fantastic numbers ever since entering the minors. Despite never pitching above the Single-A level, the Red Sox recently placed him on the 40-man roster. Boston clearly sees something special in this kid that the rest of the world doesn’t and his development should be one of the most interesting prospects of the 2019 season.
Red Sox Prospects: Denyi Reyes
The Red Sox initially acquired Reyes as an international free agent all the way back in 2014. While he was mostly used as a starter, the Red Sox tried to transition him to the bullpen back in 2017.
However, Reyes jumped back into the starting rotation in 2018. Playing in Greenville and Salem, Reyes finished his 2018 season with a 1.97 ERA and a 3.13 FIP in 24 starts. Reyes’ best quality is definitely his command, as the righty allowed just 1.10 walks per nine innings in 2018.
2018 doesn’t look like a fluke, as Reyes has posted similar numbers throughout his minor league career. Since entering the Sox system, Reyes has a 2.12 ERA and a 2.84 FIP while allowing less than one walk per nine innings. Top pitching prospects like Tanner Houck, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Bryan Mata have serious command concerns, so it’s refreshing to see a guy like Reyes capable of such elite command.
While Reyes has amazing command, his stuff itself isn’t elite. His fastball sits at a pedestrian 90-92 miles per hour, although it does possess some late movement. He complements this fastball with an average changeup, a below-average curveball, and a newly-discovered slider which could be the cause of his impressive 2018 season. While he may not have the raw talent of some of his peers, he uses all of his natural talents to its full capacity.
What To Work On
Reyes is probably one of the safest pitchers in the Sox system, but his ceiling is relatively low. While his command is elite, none of his other peripherals jump off the page. His career 7.86 K/9 rate is solid but unspectacular and his ground ball rate typically lands around 40%.
These numbers, when combined with his fantastic command, implies that he has the goods to at least make it as a fringe major leaguer. However, if he’s to make the next step to becoming a top-notch prospect, he’ll need to work on striking out more batters or inducing more ground balls.
Additionally, it’s slightly worrisome that Reyes has yet to make it out of Single-A. Reyes first appeared in rookie ball back in 2015 and has only made it to High-A Salem over the past four years. Additionally, he’s only pitched 32 innings in Salem, so he might not even start 2019 with the Portland Sea Dogs.
Typically, good players find a way to climb through the mediocrity of Single-A faster than this. While there are always exceptions to the rule, it’s discouraging to see Reyes spend so much time playing against the worst professional baseball has to offer.
The Boston Red Sox put Reyes on their 40-man roster, so Boston clearly believes there’s a bright future for this kid. Even though he’s been with the Red Sox since 2015, he’s just 22-years old and should have room to grow as a player.
However, don’t expect the newest member of the 40-man roster to make his major league debut any time soon. He’s yet to pitch above Single-A and it’s anyone’s guess how his stuff will play against the higher-level AA bats.
His otherworldly command gives him a safe floor, but his relatively pedestrian stuff implies he won’t ever be a mid- or top-rotation arm. He has a good chance to stick as a back-end or emergency starter if everything breaks right, but we’re still a decent ways away from that. Look for Reyes to spend 2019 and 2020 in the minors with the possibility of earning a September call-up in the 2020 season.