In 2013, Reynolds graduated from Brentwood High School in Tennessee and was named first team All-State and District Player of the Year as a senior.
Bryan went to Vanderbilt on a baseball scholarship and majored in psychology.
Reynolds' sister, Amanda, is an avid free climber. Their dad, Greg, is an aspiring pro bass fisherman, while their mother, Michelle, is an outdoor enthusiast.
Bryan's favorites include Chipper Jones and Miguel Cabrera (baseball players), Atlanta Braves (baseball team), Step Brothers, Talladega Nights (movies), Deadliest Catch, River Monsters (TV shows), Will Ferrell (actor), Mumford & Sons (musicians), sausage biscuit and milk (late night snack), Adirondack Mountains (vacation spot).
Reynolds was roommates with Tyler Ferguson and Zander Wiel at Vanderbilt.
In 2014, Bryan was named a member of the first-year SEC Academic Honor Roll as a freshman.
Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said regarding Reynolds, "Bryan is a very talented young man who has many skill sets. He took on a veteran role offensively in his first year, while playing several defensive positions. He is a very consistent hitter from both sides of the plate with the ability to drive the ball. I really like his versatility and his athleticism; he can play six positions on the field. He has a tremendous future in the game. Great student."
In 2015, Reynolds had a strong summer in the Cape Cod League, hitting .346/.470/.395.
Giants scouting director, John Barr described Bryan as versatile enough to play any outfield spot, though he projected the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder as being skilled enough to remain in center field.
Reynolds' versatility encompasses the batter's box. A switch-hitter, he garnished his .330 batting average with 13 home runs, 57 RBIs, a .461 on-base percentage and a .603 slugging percentage as a junior this year. Last summer, Reynolds legitimized himself in the wooden-bat Cape Cod League, where he hit .346 in 21 regular-season games with Orleans. Barr said he envisions Reynolds as being adept enough to occupy any of the first three spots in the batting order.
Reynolds displayed durability for Vanderbilt, appearing in all 206 of the team's games during his three collegiate seasons. Moreover, Reynolds' attitude reminded the Giants' decision-makers of the current regulars they drafted and developed.
"He's a winner," Barr said. "That's the type of personality that we've always seen. He really tries to get the most out of his ability. That's something we look for in the players that we select."
Other statistics and accomplishments Reynolds accumulated support that view. In 2014 as a freshman, he led Vanderbilt's national championship team in hitting (.338) and slugging (.480). At the 2015 College World Series, he was named to the All-Tournament teams. In 2016, he was named to the Southeastern Conference tournament team. (Haft - MLB.com - 6/9/16)
- In 2016, Reynolds got drafted by the Giants (see Transactions below).
In 2017,Baseball America rated Bryan as the 4th-best prospect in the Giants organization. He was at #5 in 2018.
In 2019, after getting traded, Bryan was rated as 9th-best player in the Pirates' organization by the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.
The Giants were impressed with more than just Reynolds' power.
“His athleticism, first and foremost,” general manager Bobby Evans said, regarding what prompted San Francisco to select Reynolds.
“He’s an excellent athlete who should be able to develop the tools in every facet of the game—from arm strength to being a defender to his bat and potential for power, though that may or may not be his long-term game.”
Bryan doesn't see himself as a power hitter.
“I’m not going to hit an outrageous amount of homers,” he said, “but I’ll mess up every now and then, and hopefully get it up high enough so the wind will take it.” (Steve Kroner - Baseball America - 6/09/2017)
If you believe a sense of humor is an asset for a player, Reynolds should be in good stead. Consider how often he boasts about Vanderbilt to his teammates. “I bring it (up) every chance I can,” Reynolds said. “I’ll say something about Vandy, and they’ll tell me to close the yearbook. I’ll say I can’t because there’s a ring keeping the pages open.”
The Commodores won the College World Series in 2014, Reynolds’ freshman season.
In 2017, Reynolds represented the Giants in the All-Star Futures game.
When Bryan was little, he would hit soft baseballs thrown to him by his dad, Greg, from their front yard into a neighbor's house. Nearly two decades later [in mid-June 2019], Reynolds is pacing all Major League rookies in batting average and on-base percentage.
"One time, we were hitting on a little tiny field around our house—I was 4 or 5—and he put a ball on the tee," Reynolds said. "I guess I was not hitting well, so he just said, ‘Swing hard right here.’ He was on one knee, with his leg up. I just swung as hard as I could and smoked him in the knee with my bat. He was rolling around in pain, and I ran and hid behind the car.” (DeNicola - mlb.com - 6/16/19)
In 2019, so many things went wrong for the Pirates, but Reynolds wasn't one of them. The rookie outfielder has been not only the Bucs’ best rookie but arguably their best player this season. Reynolds may not overwhelm with flashy tools and highlight-reel plays, but he has earned Pittsburgh’s respect with his quiet, effective play since his debut on April 20.
On the night of April 19, 2019, Bryan turned up the volume on his cellphone before going to sleep at his apartment in Indianapolis. The call came later that night from Indianapolis manager Brian Esposito. After only 13 games in Triple-A, Reynolds was going to the big leagues the next morning.
He packed one bag and didn’t completely clear out his locker at Victory Field. He took only what he thought he’d need for a trip of 10 days or so. He left his apartment as it was and he kept paying rent for another month and a half.
“I just figured I was going to be up there until people were healthy then go back,” Reynolds said, “and I’d need somewhere to live.”
Earlier this summer, his wife went and packed it up. Reynolds has never been back.
The rookie earned a permanent place in the Pirates' outfield by batting .318 with an .891 OPS and a team-leading 4.2 Wins Above Replacement entering the final week of an otherwise disappointing season for the Bucs. He’s gone about it the same way he always has: dependably and quietly, without drawing too much attention to himself.
“That didn’t ever cross my mind, to be up here this early,” Reynolds said while sitting in the visitors’ dugout at Wrigley Field last weekend. “But it worked out, and here we are.”
When you see where Reynolds is now, it’s hard to imagine him being undrafted and only lightly recruited out of high school. But there wasn’t a ton of interest as he played through a shoulder injury, which kept him from playing defense as a senior, and he didn’t market himself on the showcase circuit.
He received two college scholarship offers, he said, both close to home in Nashville: one from Lipscomb University, a private Christian college, and one from Vanderbilt University.
“I think nationally he was hidden,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “He was one of those guys that just kind of was in the background a little bit.”
Reynolds grew up as a Tennessee football fan, but he often attended Vanderbilt baseball games with his father, Greg. They made the trip from Brentwood, Tenn., to watch David Price and Florida’s Mike Zunino play at Hawkins Field.
Reynolds attended a hitting camp at Vanderbilt, played well and caught the attention of assistant coaches Josh Holliday and Larry Day. Eventually, Corbin offered Reynolds a scholarship. To cover his bases, Reynolds emailed some other Southeastern Conference programs to see if they were also interested. Nobody else replied.
“It’s the best school in the country for baseball,” he said. “I was just grateful that they gave me a chance when nobody else would.”
Even now, Corbin admits they didn’t immediately know what they had in Reynolds. He pinch-hit during his first collegiate game at Long Beach State, delivered a single to right-center and never came out of the lineup after that, Corbin said.
“Started every game, except I was sick one game,” Reynolds added, “but then came in to pinch-hit anyway after throwing up all night.”
Reynolds starred at Vanderbilt, hitting .329 over three seasons while winning the 2014 College World Series and falling just short of a second title in 2015. The next year, the Giants selected him in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He was no longer hidden.
“He was a fixture,” Corbin said. “He is one of the most, if not the most, consistent player we’ve had in our program from start to finish. I always felt like this kid was a treasure.”
Traded for an icon: Reynolds’ first year in the Pirates' organization didn’t go as planned. Four games into the season with Double-A Altoona, he fractured the hamate bone in his left hand. That came after he went just 1-for-21 in Spring Training.
No matter the return, trading Andrew McCutchen wasn’t going to be popular in Pittsburgh. Being traded for a franchise icon wasn’t always easy, either. Former Altoona manager Michael Ryan said he could tell the transition was an “eye-opening” experience for Reynolds.
“Getting traded for McCutchen, I guess I tried to put a little pressure on myself early,” Reynolds said. “Once I let that go, it was fine after that.”
Sure enough, Reynolds finished last season with a .302 average, as close as he’s ever come to batting below .300. He’s at his best, he said, when he’s not worried about trying to impress people.
After a better showing this spring, Reynolds reported to Triple-A and he set out to bat .300 with more home runs than last year, when his injury sapped some of his power. And like anybody else in Triple-A, he wanted to get called up.
“I just wanted to hit well, play well,” Reynolds said, “and hopefully get called up a week ago.”
This 2019 season obviously didn’t play out like Reynolds or the Pirates planned, either.
By April 20, Pittsburgh’s top four outfielders were injured. Reynolds figured he’d be sent back to Indianapolis when Starling Marte returned, considering Marte’s collision with Erik Gonzalez led to Reynolds’ callup. His play gave management no choice but to keep him up.
“It’s always cool when a guy comes up and just forces their hand, like, ‘All right, I’m not going anywhere,’” Pirates third baseman Colin Moran said. “It’s hard not to be impressed when somebody does that.”
Reynolds commands attention in a different way than his fellow rookies. He doesn’t have the home run power or big-market media attention of 2019 National League Rookie of the Year Award front-runner Pete Alonso. He doesn’t have the speed or bloodlines of Fernando Tatis Jr. Unlike Mike Soroka, Reynolds wasn’t an All-Star and he’s not playing for a first-place team.
“It’s one of the best acknowledgements you can give a guy, but it’s not used much anymore: He’s a ballplayer,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s a ballplayer that quietly does his job and has tremendous pride in doing his job with dependability.
“It’s hard to argue with a man’s best ability being his dependability, to this day, in any facet. That’s what I’ve seen from Bryan Reynolds from the first day he showed up.”
His peers have noticed, too. Last week, Moran said, he approached Reynolds and rookie shortstop Kevin Newman to deliver a sincere message: “It’s been pretty damn impressive to be able to watch what you guys are doing.”
“It was kind of awkward,” Moran added, grinning. “I told them I don’t like giving compliments. I usually just give them crap all the time.”
Funny man act: Spend enough time around Reynolds and you’ll find that he has a sneaky sense of humor, too.
“He’s dry funny, that’s what he is,” Corbin agreed. “He’s sarcastic.”
When Moran’s brother, Brian, took the mound for the Marlins on Sept. 5, Reynolds was due up with Moran on deck. He knew he’d get grief from Moran if he struck out. And he wanted to let the brothers enjoy their historically rare matchup. Reynolds swung at the first pitch, grounded out, and got out of the way.
“I was just being courteous,” he quipped.
One morning, Newman was doing an interview in front of his locker about his weight, nutrition and how much better he feels now than a year ago. It’s well-trodden territory for Newman, so his locker mate has also heard all the questions and answers before. When the interview ended and a reporter greeted Reynolds, the rookie leaned back in his chair, glanced at Newman and deadpanned, in his low Southern drawl, “Just trying to keep my weight up.”
His Vanderbilt baseball bio page is full of unusual information about his family. It says his sister, Amanda, is an avid free climber; his father, Greg, is an aspiring professional bass fisher; his mother, Michelle, is an outdoor enthusiast; and his uncle, Chuck, is a semi-pro deep sea snorkeler.
It would be interesting, if any of it was true.
“I made all of that up,” Reynolds said.
He and his dad do like to fish, though. And Chipper Jones, another switch-hitting No. 10, really was his favorite player.
Private life: Many professional athletes use social media to build a personal brand and interact with fans. Some, like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster, can make it a profitable extension of their personality. Reynolds’ Twitter account is private. So is his Instagram. So, to a certain extent, is Reynolds.
“He’s quiet, but in a good way,” Collin Moran said. “I think he’s gotten more comfortable as the season has gone on. It’s hard not to be, with how he’s doing.”
Reynolds was able to make a smooth, subtle transition to the Majors in part because he initially shared the experience with Cole Tucker, the irrepressibly friendly former first-round pick who hit a game-winning homer the day he and Reynolds debuted against the Giants on April 20. Tucker is chatty and ebullient, a fan favorite everywhere he’s played and a natural in front of the camera. Reynolds is friendly but understated, like his Johnny Cash walk-up song. While the media gravitated toward Tucker, Reynolds kept plugging along at the plate.
“I thought it was great. I didn’t have to deal with that much,” Reynolds said. “I got to slip under the radar, which is fine with me.”
On June 19, Reynolds hit a three-run homer to cap the Pirates’ six-run comeback in an 8-7 win over the Tigers at PNC Park. Afterward, Trevor Williams declared “it’s time for the national media to pay attention to what Bryan Reynolds is doing.”
Meanwhile, Reynolds got dressed in the clubhouse and went home before the local media even arrived at his locker. He wasn’t trying to ignore anybody or skip out on an obligation. He just wasn’t seeking the spotlight. He never is.
His performance speaks for itself.
“I don’t care about getting attention. I want to go out there, get hits, have good at-bats and play well,” Reynolds said. “I’ve never really cared about getting the recognition, because it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. I just want to try to play my best.” (A Berry - MLB.com - Sept 23, 2019)
2019: According to Clint Hurdle, Bryan's as stoic as Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius, and largely immune to feeling pressure. It’s a quality he attributes to DNA rather than to his major at Vandy.
“I can’t really attribute that to my psychology studies,” said Reynolds. “It’s more of how I was raised. My parents never put too much emphasis on the outward, on the external . . . what people think of you. I have my own standards — I expect to have good at bats — but I’m not striving to meet anyone else’s expectations, whatever they may be.” (David Laurila-FanGraphs)
Nov 11, 2019: Any other year, Bryan Reynolds might have been a strong candidate to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award. But this was not any other year. Reynolds placed fourth in the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voting. Pete Alonso won the award and Fernando Tatis, Jr. finished second.
August 30, 2020: Bryan was on the Paternity list. Reynolds informed Pirates manager Derek Shelton around 5:00 a.m. that he needed to go on paternity leave to be with his wife, Blair. (Reynolds had announced in March 2020 that they were expecting their first child, a boy, in September.)
Under normal circumstances, clubs have been avoiding commercial travel during the coronavirus pandemic. But the Pirates made an exception for this situation, permitting Reynolds to fly home. “When you’re dealing with kids and being there for a moment of your life, we have to be a little more lenient,” Shelton said. “We’d like him to get there for the birth.” (Berry - mlb.com)
September 1-2, 2020: The Reynoldses announced the birth of their son, Reese Scott, on social media. Pirates manager Shelton said Bryan will return to the team “at the appropriate time,” and offered his congratulations.
“So very happy for Bryan and Blair Reynolds,” Shelton said. “Bryan and I did talk the other day about becoming a dad for the first time. I shared some of the experiences that I screwed up when I first did it and told him, ‘Hey, it's a fun time.’ Very happy for them.” (Berry - mlb.com)
September 3, 2020: Bryan rounded second base, jogged toward third, then put his hands together and rocked his arms from side to side, as if he were rocking a baby to sleep. Yes, Reynolds tapped into some “dad strength” in his return from the paternity list.
On August 31st, Reynolds’ wife, Blair, gave birth to the couple’s first child, Reese. Three days later, Reynolds celebrated the arrival of his new son by blasting a three-run homer in the Pirates’ 6-2 win over the Cubs at PNC Park. “I felt good out there,” Reynolds said afterward. “But the homer you’ve got to attribute to dad strength, for sure.”
Reynolds came to the plate in the third with two on, two outs and the Pirates down, 2-1. He took two curveballs and a changeup from right-hander Alec Mills to get ahead in the count, then unloaded on a changeup down near his knees, launching it 397 feet into the tarped-over right-field seats. The Pirates held the lead Reynolds gave them the rest of the way.
“It’s awesome to see. It's a weird thing; once you have a kid, all of a sudden ..." manager Derek Shelton said. “I thought he took good at-bats throughout the day. Any time you get your first homer after [having] a kid, it's an exciting thing.”
Reynolds looked into the dugout, did his new-dad celebration and saw shortstop Kevin Newman flashing it right back at him. Reynolds said he couldn’t remember who first suggested he pretend to hold a baby in his first game back, but he liked the idea and ran with it. He even did it at second base after his first hit of the day.
"That was awesome. Dad strength is a real thing, I guess,” starter JT Brubaker said. “Pretty awesome to see him hit a home run in his first game back. Double, home run. It was fun to watch. He just looked confident, in my opinion." (Berry - mlb.com)
2020 Season: Pirates manager Derek Shelton had a recurring response for every time he was asked about Bryan Reynolds struggling at the plate: “This kid’s been hitting since he was born. I mean, it doesn’t take someone that’s overly smart or knows hitting to realize that this guy is going to hit.”
Problem is, Reynolds didn’t.
After establishing himself as a consistent hitter by leading the Pirates in batting average (.314), on-base percentage (.377) and tied for the team lead in doubles (37) as a rookie, Reynolds started 0 for 13 and never could get his timing down. He finished with the second-worst batting average among Pirates starters, behind Gregory Polanco, and third-most strikeouts (57), behind Polanco and Josh Bell.
The Pirates were counting on Reynolds’ bat from both sides of the plate to give a boost to both Polanco and Bell in the batting order, but he batted .083 (2 for 24) in the first seven games. Reynolds got only two hits in 50 plate appearances while batting second or third in the order before being dropped to the five-hole, where he hit .247 in 24 games.
“I don’t think that’s a clear representation of how I am as a player,” Reynolds said in late September. “It’s a short season. I’m not harping on it overly too much. But I’m definitely not pleased with it.”
Reynolds had his moments, especially in the outfield. He had five assists, throwing Brewers runners out at the plate in back-to-back games in July. And he made a memorable return from paternity leave after the birth of his son, Reese, hitting a double and a three-run home run in a 6-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 3.
“I mean, I wanted to have a good season, play well on both sides of the ball and help us win,” Reynolds said. “And I think I played decent defense and my offense was terrible.”
If there is a silver lining, it’s that Reynolds got a late-season audition in center field. The Pirates traded Jarrod Dyson and Anthony Alford suffered a season-ending elbow injury. It’s possible the Pirates could make the move from left to center a permanent one.
“I want to play center field,” Reynolds said. “I really like center. I just think you get better reads, see better, and I really enjoy playing out there.”
And he also got a look as a leadoff batter, hitting .222 with two doubles, a home run and two RBIs in five games.
But Reynolds wasn’t looking for silver linings after a season that was so disappointing and such a drastic drop-off from his first year with the Pirates, when he was their most consistent hitter.
“I might have put a little too much pressure on myself because I knew it was a shortened season, and I might have thought I didn’t have time to have a slump,” Reynolds said. “And so I had one the whole season instead. That’s something to learn from.” (Kevin Gorman | November 27, 2020)
- June 2016: The Giants chose Reynolds in the second round, out of Vanderbilt University, via scout Jeff Wood. Reynolds received a $1.35 million bonus, $260,000 more than the slotted amount.
- Jan. 15, 2018: The Pirates traded Andrew McCutchen to the Giants for Kyle Crick and Reynolds.