Reyes was born and raised in Elizabeth, N.J., where he pitched and played third base and shortstop in high school.
After his junior year in 2012, he moved to the Dominican Republic to stay with extended family (his grandmother). When he decided to leave his home and family in New Jersey to see if baseball would take notice of him in the Dominican Republic, Reyes packed his dreams of being a third baseman, a glove, some cleats and a few bats. He wouldn’t need the bats for long.
Born and raised in Elizabeth, N.J., the righthander skipped his prom and graduation to live with his grandmother and become eligible as an international amateur, if he could draw the scouts. He did with one move—to the mound. Reyes volunteered to throw when his Dominican team ran out of pitchers one day, and after flashing a power fastball a trainer gave him advice: “Stick to pitching,” Reyes said.
By moving to the Dominican, Reyes circumvented the draft. Also, by relocating to the Dominican, he had a chance to focus on baseball and was, on a lark, put on the mound. He won’t be leaving it. The Cardinals outbid the Astros and Royals to sign Reyes.
- In 2012, Reyes signed with the Cardinals (see Transactions below).
In 2014, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Reyes as #7 in the Cards' farm system. They had him as the 2nd-best prospect in the Cardinals organization in 2015. But before 2016 spring training, they rated Alex as the #1 prospect in the Cardinals organization. And Alex stayed #1 in the offseason before 2017 spring camps opened. He was #1 for the third straight year in 2018. And in 2019, Reyes was the #1 Cardinals prospect for the fourth year in a row!
November 9, 2015–May 21, 2016: Cardinals top prospect Alex Reyes, who was projected to crack the Major League roster at some point in 2016, will have that arrival delayed after being hit with a 50-game suspension for a second positive test for a drug of abuse (marijuana), in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
One Cardinals official called it a "large speed bump," for Reyes.
"I think ‘disappointment’ sums it up,” GM John Mozeliak said. “You look at how well he was pitching this past year and having the success he was having in the (Arizona) Fall League and his opportunities at the major league level would have been very high. This is definitely a setback.”
Throughout the final 39 games of his 50-game suspension for marijuana use, Alex made regular, scheduled starts in extended spring training.
MLB debut (August 9, 2016): Reyes announced his arrival with 101-mph fastballs and a pair of devastating curves. The Cardinals' 7-4 loss to the Reds was highlighted by the debut of their top prospect, who jogged in from the bullpen as those who remained in the ballpark came to their feet. He treated the crowd to a 1-2-3 inning. (Jenifer Langosch - MLB.com)
Jan 5, 2017: "I've always wanted to experience the World Baseball Classic, and the Cardinals gave me the thumbs up to do so," said Reyes, who will join Cardinals teammate Carlos Martinez on that squad. "I'm humbled to be a part of the D.R. team filled with All-Star caliber talent and help them defend the WBC crown on an international stage."
Reyes, who was born in New Jersey, was eligible to be selected by either the Dominican or U.S. team. His parents are both natives of the Dominican Republic, and Reyes relocated there to live with grandparents as a teenager. Though Reyes was to spend the spring vying for a spot in the Cardinals' rotation, the Cardinals supported his decision to participate in the international tournament. Reyes' absence from camp, which could extend for a few weeks, is not expected to affect his chances at an Opening Day roster spot.
"I think this is a great experience for these guys," Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said of players taking part in the international tournament. "You hope when competing that no one gets hurt, and that, in the end, it grows the game globally. For me, I don't have any concerns about it. And as long as the player is excited about the opportunity, it's great." (J Langosch - MLB.com - Jan 5, 2017)
January 2017: Reyes committed to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
The tears came streaming down Alex's face again, already too many for a career so short. In the car ride back from another orthopedic office, Reyes sobbed at the harsh reality of what lies ahead: another operation, another six weeks in a sling, another season ripped away.
All the while, another person's plight weighed heavily on his mind, as it has throughout much of his big league career. Speaking publicly for the first time since undergoing surgery to reattach a tendon in his right lat last week, Reyes disclosed a devastating detail that he's held privately more than a year. His young daughter, Aleyka, is battling cancer.
"I felt like, if my daughter fought for her life, I can fight for my career. That's pretty much what's been in my head," he said.
Reyes said doctors diagnosed his daughter with neuroblastoma—a rare cancer that forms in certain nerve cells of infants—when she was 5 months old. Aleyka's were found in her heart. Her recovery, palpable but not yet complete, has run largely concurrent with his, first from Tommy John surgery and now from a lat tear. Aleyka and her mother, Diana Guerrero, lived in St. Louis last year while Reyes rehabbed with the team. Reyes' mother, Dignora, also flew in frequently from New Jersey to help care for Aleyka, who will turn two next month.
Reyes said her tumors are "getting smaller." "It's been a long road for the both of us," Reyes said. "I've been handed a tough deck of cards. I'm fighting."
"Focusing on living in the present and being patient," he said prior to his season debut in Milwaukee in May 2018. "Understanding it wasn't going to come over night. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel."
It's a mindset applicable once again. Reyes will keep his arm immobile for six weeks, and eschew from throwing for four months. Doctors are hopeful he can return to a mound near the end of 2018.
"It just sucks. I said that when I went down with Tommy John, and this one is probably a little harder," Reyes said. "Whatever my career puts in front of me I'm going to attack it and I'm gonna try and get myself 100 percent no matter what. Hopefully I'll be back in this clubhouse next year and this will all be behind me." (Trezza - mlb.com - 6/12/18)
Feb 13, 2019: Two years have passed since Alex Reyes sat at a nearby clinic having his ailing elbow examined while his teammates took the field for their first official spring workout. He never did return to join them. It's a subjective, but significant, starting point on a journey, when he took the mound not as a rehabbing pitcher, but as one readying for the season ahead. He did so with perspective and purpose, not all of which can be traced back to professional adversity.
There were the two surgeries, yes, and the months of rehab that followed. There was only one start. There were also months spent sleeping on hospital room floors while his daughter, Aleyka, received cancer treatment for a neuroblastoma that doctors diagnosed when she was five months old. A torn ligament in Reyes' right elbow and the torn tendon around his latissimus dorsi muscle were hardly comparable setbacks.
"For me, baseball is a blessing," Reyes said. "If I get to play 10 or 15 years, that's a blessing. For my daughter, it's a blessing for her to live." With Aleyka's cancer in remission and Reyes' rehab complete, the 24-year-old now hopes to make good on the expectations he's carried since starting his organizational climb in 2013. He ascended to the top of the Cardinals' prospect rankings in 2016 and has remained there ever since. It's a nod to his talent, but also a reminder of how long he has been stuck in place.
"My job is to be on a Major League roster," Reyes said. "I'd like to get off those prospect lists as soon as possible." The next batter he retires at the big league level will nullify his eligibility. The Cardinals haven't downplayed the importance of this coming year for Reyes, with president of baseball operations John Mozeliak going so far as to recently describe it as a "huge season" for the right-hander. The good news is it's off to a normal and predictable start. A few hours after passing his physical, Reyes threw alongside Dakota Hudson and Connor Jones to open Spring Training. He showcased all of his pitches, including a more confident curveball that has Reyes especially excited.
His spring schedule will be modified to allow for two days of rest (instead of the normal one) between bullpen sessions and a little longer wait before facing hitters in live batting practice. But as it's scripted, the Cardinals have every intention of including Reyes in Grapefruit League play.
"If they give me an opportunity to pitch in a big league Spring Training game, to me, that's telling me that I have an opportunity to break with the big league club," Reyes said. "For me, that's going to be my goal no matter what—to break camp with the Major League team."
How that works within the restrictions the Cards will place on his workload this year remains an incomplete puzzle. There's a chance he slides into a bullpen role in an effort to limit innings. If he starts, it likely won't be right away. The Cards don't want to ride him so hard early that he can't be a weapon late. It's a conundrum that won't likely be solved for several weeks, but a welcome one nonetheless. Having Reyes back on the mound without significant restriction is one of the team's first wins of spring.
"He's in a good place," manager Mike Shildt said. "We're mindful of where he is and where he's going and how we progress it. But he's in a really, really, really good spot." (J Langosch - MLB.com - Feb 15, 2019)
July 2021: Reyes was chosen for the first time to the pitching staff in the All-Star Game.
- December 2012: Alex signed with the Cardinals for $950,000 as a free agent, out of the Dominican Republic. Rodny Jimenez and Angel Ovalles were the scouts who inked Reyes.
- Jan 15, 2021: Alex avoided arbitration with the Cards, agreeing to a one-year deal for $900,000.
|Birth City:||Elizabeth, NJ|
|Draft:||2012 - Cardinals - Free agent - Out of the D.R.|
|2017||-||DL - Tommy John|
Reyes has a 94-102 mph FASTBALL, that is a top-of-the-scale 80 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale and very difficult to square up. Alex gets two-plane break and abrupt tilt on a 77-80 mph power CURVEBALL with sharp, late 12-to-6 break—rating a plus-plus 70 grade. That knee-buckling hammer curve unnerves the first batter who sees it in every game.
He has good arm speed and movement on his fine 88-90 mph CHANGEUP (becoming a 60 grade) that gets swings-and-misses. Alex is working on an 85-88 mph cutter-SLIDER hybrid that can get him a pitch that moves to his glove side and grades 55.
And he has a 45 grade for his control.
He struggles with location of his hammer curveball occasionally, but it can be a good chase pitch. He elevates his heater for swings and misses and blows it by hitters even when he misses his spot. While Reyes’ fastball command is imperfect, he improved his body and delivery during his Tommy John rehab to stay more compact and on line to the plate. The result was improved control and a fastball that was a more consistently competitive pitch. (Spring, 2019)
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 49.7% of the time; Sinker 14% of the time; Change 23.7%; Slider 4.6%; and Curve 7.8% of the time.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 59.4% of the time, his Change 13%; Slider 13%; and Curve 14.5% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 97.1 mph, Change 90.2, Slider 88.3, and Curve 80.7 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 45.9% of the time, Sinker 14.9%; his Change 5%; Slider 17.7%; and Curve 16.6% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 97.9 mph, Sinker 98, Change 90.7, Slider 87.1, and Curve 82 mph.
Alex has long arms, and his rapid arm speed generates hard heat from a solid downhill angle from a high three-quarters slot. He throws across his body a bit, but lands under control, repeating his delivery pretty consistently. It is a solid arm action.
Reyes is a strapping young man with a tight end’s frame. He’s already developed a reputation for durability but must maintain his conditioning.
He keeps the ball low in the zone, most of the time. But he still has stretches of erratic control. Overall, Reyes gains a 45 grade for his control, just slightly below big-league average. Alex misses bats. And he gives more groundballs than flyballs.
Reyes very rarely gives up a home run. He only allowed one homer in 2015.
Reyes has never had a stretch in his career where he’s shown consistent average or better control. He’s walked 4.3 batters per nine or more in each of his three pro seasons (through 2015).
Reyes throws across his body slightly, but there’s little otherwise to indicate long-term control issues. He can reach 100 mph without excessive effort in his delivery and he generally repeats his release point. But his excellent curveball is a pitch that he still struggles to throw for strikes.
In 2013, Reyes struck out 27 percent of Appalachian League hitters he faced.
2014 Season: When Alex threw strikes for the Peoria Chiefs, he was the MWL’s least-hittable starter. But when he didn’t—he walked 6.1 batters per nine innings in the first half—wildness was always just around the corner.
Reyes walked a tightrope between dominance and disaster all season. And the balancing act reached a pinnacle with five scoreless innings against Kane County on July 2, when he allowed just two hits and struck out 10 but also walked seven.
Over the second half of the 2014 season, he repeated his delivery more consistently.
In 2015, Reyes and lefty Austin Gomber were named the Cardinals Minor League Pitchers of the Year.
Reyes continues to show the ability to maintain 100 mph horsepower deep into his starts—in those cases where his pitch efficiency allows him to get deep into starts.
All that is keeping Reyes from being the ace of the pitching staff is better pitch economy and the ability to show, start to start, that he cannot only overwhelm hitters with his velocity but also retire them like he does everything else: quickly.
October 2017: A lost season provided perspective gained for Alex Reyes, who, after entering 2017 Spring Training ranked as baseball's top righthanded pitching prospect, learned that he'd be shut down for the year before ever throwing a pitch in camp. Reyes, 23, underwent Tommy John surgery the same week the Cardinals held their first full-squad workout. But instead of returning home or remaining in Florida once Spring Training ended to continue his rehab, Reyes relocated his work to St. Louis so that he could be exposed to a full big league season, even if from the sidelines.
"By just watching the guys go out there and play really drove me in the gym and the training room," Reyes said. "It reminded me of where I wanted to be. It reminded me of what I'm missing out on. I think just watching these guys play day in and day out and grind, it helped me build a little more passion for myself and for the game."
The timing of Reyes' elbow procedure offers him more than a year of recovery time before the 2018 season, and his progress thus far has Reyes positioned to be ready perhaps by Opening Day 2018. He returned to the mound to throw his first post-surgery bullpen session and planned to remain in St. Louis after the 2017 regular season to repeat the exercise another handful of times.
Reyes expects to be in Jupiter, Florida, where he will continue his rehab program under the supervision of the training staff at the Cardinals' complex.
"It was just an excitement that I haven't felt throughout this process yet," Reyes said of throwing off the mound again. "We haven't had any setbacks. I've been progressing nicely and smoothly, actually."
"He's had as good an attitude as you can for basically working out by yourself," general manager Michael Girsch said. "The accomplishments when you're going through Tommy John are so small, right? He did a good job coming in and everything seems to be pointing in a good direction. He's going to throw a few times here in the fall, and then we're going to take a little bit of a break. It's all been pretty positive." (J Langosch - MLB.com - Oct 11, 2017)
Mar 1, 2019: Cardinals top prospect Alex Reyes is set to make his Grapefruit League debut, in what would represent another significant step in the righthander's comeback from season-ending surgery in June 2018. Manager Mike Shildt confirmed those plans after watching Reyes throw his third session of live batting practice this spring. This one came with new catcher Matt Wieters behind the plate and featured Reyes throwing a full array of pitches.
When he takes the mound, it will mark Reyes’ second game appearance for the Cardinals since 2016. He had his enrie 2017 season wiped out by Tommy John surgery and made one four-inning appearance last May before undergoing surgery to reattach a tendon in his latissimus dorsi muscle. The last time he was healthy enough to pitch in a Spring Training game, Reyes had yet to make his Major League debut.
“I’m dying to pitch in a Spring Training game,” Reyes said this week. “I’m dying to get out there.”
The Cardinals haven’t yet determined whether Reyes will make his appearance as a starter or in relief. Regardless the role, he will spend the rest of Spring Training building up to carry a starter’s workload. As for where he’ll be and how he’ll be used when the regular season starts, the Cardinals intend to take their time before making a final decision.
“All to his credit in how he prepared and trained and his desire to get back and give himself every opportunity to be on our team,” Shildt said. “My confidence level was really high because I knew he prepared and I knew where he was physically and mentally, that he was going to be able to check the boxes. So it doesn’t surprise me that he checked the boxes.” (J langosch - MLB.com - Mar 1, 2019)
2020 Season: Reyes put together the first consistent season that he has had since 2016. He had COVID-19, so he pitched just 19.2 innings, Reyes had a 3.20 ERA and struck out 27 batters. He still has the electric stuff and high-octane fastball that made him a top prospect. However, 2020’s sample size also reminded fans of Reyes’ control issues as he walked 14 batters. (Matt Graves - Feb. 27, 2021)
July 18, 2021: When Alex left Busch Stadium on July 17th, after converting another save in his illustrious All-Star season, he heard some congratulations from fans as he left the ballpark.
“[They] said congratulations, and I was like, ‘Well, you know, we got the win.’” Reyes recalled. At the time, he didn't realize the MLB record he had just tied. And then he started to get filled in.
After today’s 2-1 win over the Giants to lock up the win, Reyes' teammates made sure he knew, aiming his gaze up toward the video board to soak in what it said: Reyes’ 24th consecutive save converted to start his career passed former Twins closer LaTroy Hawkins to set a Major League record. So now, he knows.
“I would say, ‘Dope,’ where I grew up,” Reyes smiled. In passing Hawkins’ mark, Reyes also surpassed club Hall of Famer Jason Isringhausen -- who's been a mentor as Reyes has learned the closer role -- for the franchise record of consecutive saves at any point in a career. Reyes' 22 to start 2021 also tied Tom Henke’s franchise mark, set in 1995, for the most to open a campaign. “It's a phenomenal record,” said manager Mike Shildt. “That’s an impressive record. It really is. And he earned it, that's for sure. He's just done a fantastic job for us. Is it more special because he's overcome the adversities he’s overcome? Probably. … Any time you hold a Major League record for anything, it says something in this game, and he's got a record that is very impressive.”
“I've learned his competitive spirit and his heart for competition in big moments years ago,” said Shildt, who was Reyes’ manager at Triple-A Memphis when he earned his first big league callup in 2016. “... People either embrace those moments or back down or learn to embrace them. In Alex’s case, he always embraced them. He actually had to learn to back off a little bit because he wanted it, so he was going to attack it. And it's a great trait.” (Silver - mlb.com)
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Alex's career record was: 6-3 with a 2.48 ERA, having allowed 3 home runs and 52 hits in 72 innings.
- July 19, 2021: Reyes set a Major League Baseball record by successfully converting his 24th straight save opportunity to open his career.
- Alex does a good job of holding runners on base.
June 25-July 18, 2015: Reyes was on the D.L. with a sore shoulder.
February-Nov 6, 2017: Alex underwent Tommy John surgery, missing the entire season.
Cardinals' GM John Mozeliak said this was likely an “event” injury. That means that it happened while he was pitching, and the elbow ligament just gave way at once, not over time.
March 29-May 30, 2018: Reyes was still recovering from his TJ surgery and was placed on the 60-day DL.
- June 6-Nov 1, 2018: Reyes underwent surgery to reattach a torn tendon in his right lat, ending his season.
April 28-Sept 30, 2019: Frustrated after a 2.2-inning start for Triple-A Memphis, Alex punched a wall with his left hand and subsequently fractured his left pinkie finger.
That decision and resulting injury will take Reyes out of active competition for the next three weeks
June 23, 2019: Reyes appears to have suffered another setback in his bid to rejoin the club’s Major League staff.
St. Louis’ prized righthander was forced to exit his start for Triple-A Memphis in the second inning with right pectoral discomfort. Reyes removed himself from the game after he showed frustration upon releasing a pitch. He began the night with a pair of strikeouts in the first inning against Oklahoma City.
July 17, 2019: Alex Reyes is at the Cardinals facility in Jupiter, Florida, rehabbing the right pectoral strain he suffered on June 26 and making sure he’s in a good place mentally, manager Mike Shildt said. Reyes threw on the side last week and is continuing to play catch, but the process is gradual and taking its time. Shildt said the Cardinals medical staff in Jupiter is optimistic that the strain isn’t serious.
“He’s making baby steps,” Shildt said. “Not as many steps as he’d like moving forward. Making sure he’s in a good place mentally, then taking care of things physically. I continue to stay in touch with Alex, check in and see how he’s doing.”
Aug 7, 2019: Alex Reyes will head to St. Louis to meet with team physicians, as the pain in his right pectoral area will not subside, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said.
Reyes threw a bullpen session, but his arm didn’t respond well to it, prompting the visit to St. Louis. It’s yet another setback in another frustrating year for Reyes, who has been on Triple-A Memphis' injured list with a right pectoral strain since the end of June.