Jomar Reyes Looks to Rebound in 2017
It may be early, but the initial returns from Jomar Reyes have to be giving the Baltimore Orioles some reason for optimism. After a down 2016, the young third baseman is off to a fast start at High-A Frederick, and is hoping to achieve some success in his second stint at the level.
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Following his solid full-season debut at Low-A Delmarva in 2015, Reyes arrived in Frederick as one of the system’s more intriguing prospects. His production at Delmarva—including a .278/.334/.440 triple-slash line over 335 plate appearances—provided some hope that he could carry that success over to the next level. However, Reyes had also dealt with a few nagging injuries along the way, and suffered a broken hamate bone in the Orioles’ post-season instructional league.
While apparently healthy when the season began, Reyes wound up having issues at at Frederick in 2016, and could never get on track. He ultimately batted .228/.271/.336 with 10 home runs in 498 plate appearances.
That left a somewhat uncertain forecast for Reyes as he entered this season. His power still allowed him to be regarded among the more noteworthy prospects in the system, and the fact that he played the 2016 season at age 19 meant that he was still young enough to turn things around. Yet, some feared that his struggles at Frederick reflected larger issues such as mechanics and pitch recognition, and questioned if his power would translate into success.
Thus far in 2017, Reyes seems to be shaking off last year’s struggles. Including his 1-for-3 performance on Sunday, Reyes carries a .359/.379/.500 line through his first 68 plate appearances.
On the whole, this is a small sample size, but still one that has to please Reyes and the Orioles in the season’s early weeks. The indications are that Reyes has started to work his way back from last year’s down performance, and the Orioles can point to him as one of the bright spots in a Frederick lineup that also features fellow prospects Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays.
Delivering on his offensive potential is crucial for Reyes, whose power has been regarded by many as perhaps his best attribute since the Orioles rewarded him a $350,000 signing bonus upon signing him as an international free agent in 2014. The hope throughout his career has been that Reyes will continue to come into his own as a hitter, and present the Orioles with not just their best power prospect, but one of their more well-rounded offensive players.
Long term, whether Reyes delivers at the plate will ultimately bring some clarity to his chances of breaking through with the organization. While many observers citie Reyes’ arm strength as a positive on defense, his size—at his relatively young age, he is already listed at 6’3” 220 lbs.—leaves some questions as to whether he can remain at third base over the long run.
One of the logical landing spots if he moves is likely first base and, should he have to move across the diamond in the near future, Reyes would be behind Chris Davis—and possibly Trey Mancini—on the organization’s depth chart at the position. That question will more likely be answered in a future season, as the Orioles appear content to leave him at third base for now.
As his season at Frederick progresses, plenty of attention will be paid to Reyes’ offensive performance. Though he is still young, Reyes might be in line to make the jump to Double-A Bowie at some point if his success continues. The Orioles have shown from time to time a willingness to be aggressive with offensive players—somethings seen most recently with Cedric Mullins skipping Frederick to start this season in Bowie—and Reyes could be in line to move up if he continues to produce. Having such as move take place before the end of the year could bode well for Reyes’ development, particularly if he can show the ability to adjust at a new level.
The key going forward will be to ensure that Reyes continues to make adjustments in the Carolina League, and is able to sustain his early success. If he is able to do that, it will give the Orioles some reason to believe that his potential will translate into strong results going forward.