- In 2011, Reyes signed with the Padres (see Transactions below)
May 14, 2018 : Reyes' red-hot start to the 2018 Minor League season paid off with a big league promotion
Reyes had a very detailed Petco Park tattoo on his chest.
Franmil remembers that November night vividly. He knew the situation. He knew the Padres needed to add him to the 40-man roster by 8:00 that night or his fate with the organization—the only one he'd ever played for—would be at the mercy of the Rule 5 Draft. So Reyes, in his childhood bedroom, waited for the phone call that would tell him he'd been added to the San Diego roster. It never came. Despite having led all Padres Minor Leaguers with 26 homers in 2017, Reyes was exposed in the Rule 5 Draft. Two weeks later, he was unselected.
"When the Padres didn't protect me, it was: 'I'm not going to let them know that I'm feeling down,'" Reyes said. "I'm going to give my 100 percent, and I know I'm going to make the Majors this year. So I worked hard. And here I am."
"There were a lot of people here who believed in him," said Padres manager Andy Green. "But you have 40 spots. You make 40 tough decisions. Some guys are just on the periphery of that. Sometimes it comes down to, 'Hey, do we think somebody's going to take this guy? No. But do we think somebody's going to take this other guy?' That doesn't mean that we necessarily value somebody over somebody else."
To hear the Padres tell it, their decision to leave Reyes unprotected was a calculated risk. Earlier that month, Reyes underwent minor hand surgery. They thought that might dissuade teams from selecting him. His shoddy defense probably had the same effect. The gamble paid off. But make no mistake: It was a gamble. The Padres almost certainly wouldn't have made it had they foreseen this much success this quickly for Reyes.
"He has stepped up and taken another huge step in his development this year," Green said. "There's no doubt about that. What he did in El Paso, it's off the charts. And what he's done here has been really special, too." (Cassavell - mlb.com - 8/12/18)
Reyes is a massive human with massive power. His plate approach is already very refined. It's easy to forget he's only 23 years old. No question, the Padres have been impressed by the results. They've been just as impressed by the mental side of Reyes' game. Upon his most recent demotion, Reyes watched old videos of his swings and compared them to his current one. He noticed he'd inadvertently increased his leg kick and the length of his swing.
"When I was in Triple-A, everything was quiet, and I was good," Reyes said. "When I got here, maybe there was something in me that was trying to show the people, trying to show the fans, the power I have. I tried too much. It was about trying to slow down my game a little bit and be quieter, react."
It's paid dividends. Reyes is going to play at least semi-regularly down the stretch, with Myers poised to see time at third. It'll be up to Reyes to sustain that success and state his case for the future right-field job.
"He's definitely played his way into the mix," Green said. "He's got more work to do out in front of him. But he has done a lot to draw everybody's attention to his ability." (Cassavell - mlb.com - 8/12/18)
Franmil speaks good English. He has gotten tremendously better since the spring. The commitment he makes is so blatantly obvious that it is really hard not to love everything about this guy. With a language barrier, sometimes Latino players don't always embrace the American culture.
“It is really important," he said. "Some players don’t understand how important this is. Some ignore the coaches requests to go to English class. It is not really hard to learn English if you put effort into it. You should never feel embarrassed to talk. Your teammates are NOT going to make fun of you. They know that is not your primary language. If you try to talk to them, they are going to see your effort and help you.” (James Clark - East Village Times- September 3, 2018)
Reyes likes to have “swag” out on the field. The energy he brings is very useful to the Padres in a losing season. Here is what else the big man had to say: "Being from an island paradise like the Dominican Republic, you naturally have a certain calmness about your demeanor. In participating in the game of baseball professionally you learn very quickly about 'the grind' players go on."
That term is used to describe the length of a baseball season and the fact that there are seldom any days off. The typical fan has no sense of this commitment and how it can completely wear down a professional athlete unmercifully. It makes things way easier for a team if they have a player or players that can keep everyone loose.
Franmil Reyes certainly provides that calming influence, as he is a social butterfly and enjoys interacting with his whole team. He keeps his teammates loose while understanding how to be prepared at the same time. (James Clark - East Village Times- September 3, 2018)
"Franmil's looked so good [in 2018]," Padres manager Andy Green said. "As an organization, he's become one of the success stories. [Signed] by us, developed by us, and he's just grown so much. We're thrilled we have him. He's done a really, really nice job." (Cassavell - mlb.com - 9/18/18)
May 22, 2019: The Padres head to Toronto, and it seems unlikely that Fernando Tatis Jr. will be deemed healthy and able to return from the left hamstring strain that sidelined him. That means no showdown between Tatis and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.—the sport's No. 1 and No. 2 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. Regardless, the weekend still presents an exciting matchup of two of the game's most exciting young sluggers -- and two sluggers with a shared history. Franmil Reyes, the Padres' 23-year-old outfielder who's off to a torrid start with 15 homers, knows Guerrero well.
"We're very, very close," Reyes said before the Padres' 5-2 win over the D-backs on Wednesday afternoon. "We grew up together."
Indeed, the two grew up in the town of Palenque in the Dominican Republic. Reyes was a few years older, though his younger brother is the same age as Guerrero.
Both played for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League, and they played softball together during off-seasons when they were younger. Earlier this week, Reyes even inquired as to whether Vlad Jr.’s grandmother would be in town, because he didn’t like the options for Dominican food in Canada. (She will be.)
“Tell your grandma, don’t forget about me,” Reyes joked.
Guerrero, MLB Pipeline's No. 1 overall prospect, got off to a shaky start with Toronto. But he's clearly found a groove since then, hitting .333/.415/.694 over the past two weeks.
Reyes, too, started his big league career slowly. He was promoted and sent down twice before he hit his stride in the second half. Reyes hasn't stopped raking since.
"When he was struggling, I didn't want to send him a text because I knew I'd see him in person," Reyes said. "I was going to give him the advice: 'Look how I started, look how I am right now. Don't worry about it.' Look, I haven't even talked to him, and he’s already got it. I'm looking forward to seeing him."
Growing up in Palenque, Reyes naturally watched Vladimir Guerrero Sr. as often as he could. Each offseason, the professionals in town staged a game on a local field, and Reyes made certain to be in attendance. He says he hopes to model his career after Guerrero Sr., both on and off the field.
"He was my favorite player, always my favorite guy to watch," Reyes said. "Everything he did for our town and the way he did things for the town, with facilities and things like that, and giving baseball stuff for the guys who need it—that's my goal. That's what I want to do."
Reyes, of course, has a front row seat to Tatis' excellence as well. Their connection dates to 2014 when Tatis Sr. served as bench coach for Escogido in Reyes' first season with the club.
Tatis' breakout didn't surprise Reyes one bit. The 20-year-old shortstop was hitting .300 with a .910 OPS before his injury. He's taking part in extended spring camp games at the Padres' complex in Peoria, Ariz. The team hasn't offered a timetable for Tatis' return.
Whenever Tatis is back, he and Guerrero will be two of the game's most exciting young players. In Reyes' eyes, the future of baseball clearly is in good hands.
"I can't describe how good they are," he said. "And it's crazy. They're so young." (AJ Casssavell - MLB.com - May 22, 2019)
HE CAN SING TOO
May 31, 2019: Reyes is a man of many talents. The most obvious, of course, is his power. The Padres' breakout 23-year-old slugger already has 16 home runs, and they usually aren't cheap.
But after his power, Reyes' singing voice might be a close second
But after his power, Reyes' singing voice might be a close second. There aren't many people who can serenade an entire Major League stadium with a Whitney Houston cover—hitting every high note in the process.
That's precisely what Reyes did, after the Padres' 5-1 win over Miami. Somehow, the fun-loving right fielder has managed to turn "I Will Always Love You," into the de facto hype song for the 2019 Padres. Of course, Reyes singing in the dugout is nothing new. He's done that his entire life. Padres lefthander Matt Strahm described the 6-foot-5, 280-pound slugger as "a big ball of joy."
"Franmil's one of the best human beings I've ever been around," Strahm said. "He puts a smile on everyone's face. He's a big ball of joy. To me, that's what the team needs. He keeps us all loose. He reminds us all: It's still a game. We're still kids. We're still having fun."
For all the songs Reyes sings, his edition of "I Will Always Love You" stuck. Initially, he and rookie righthander Chris Paddack stood in the corner of the dugout and sang it each time a Padres hitter returned after hitting a home run.
"At the beginning of the 2019 season, it was just Paddack and me doing it," Reyes said. "They'd just look at us and laugh. They didn't do it. But now, everyone's doing it. We used to do it every time we got runs, just a way to have fun."
In the dugout, the song evolved. Strahm began using a cooler as a drum. Eric Lauer and Eric Hosmer joined in, adding their own percussion. Eventually, half the team took part in the pregame ritual.
"It just kept growing and growing," Strahm said. “Singing it before every game.”
Reyes, of course, wasn't even born yet when Whitney Houston recorded the song, which topped the charts for a then-record 14 straight weeks in 1992. In fact, he heard it for the first time on "La Voz Kids," essentially the children's version of "The Voice" in his native Dominican Republic. Paola Guanche's version stole the show.
But Reyes isn't ripping off that version or even Whitney Houston's. Reyes' edition comes straight from "La Belicosa," an Instagram star from the Dominican who has his own takes on several different songs.
Minutes after Reyes had finished singing, he smashed a 112-mph rocket into the left-field seats in the bottom of the first. He would go 2-for-3 with a double and a walk as well. After the game, during an on-field interview, Reyes was asked if he wanted to close "with a song."
He obliged. And, yes, he hit all those tricky high notes. (AJ Cassavell - MLB.com - June 1, 2019)
Superstition? "That's the only superstition thing. Every time I play with this chain (a thick silver chain necklace), I have a good day." (Mandy Bell - Mar. 10, 2020)