18. Denyi Reyes (Starting Pitcher)
Last season I had Denyi Reyes a lot higher on this list (seventh). He was coming off a career-year that made him look almost untouchable.
I feel bad about dropping him this low in 2019. Honestly, his season had a lot of positives. Sure, the 4.16 ERA was much much higher than the 1.97 ERA he posted last year. The innings were down and the strikeouts were as well too. Meanwhile the hits and walks were up, and he allowed more home runs even.
In fact, Reyes allowed 33 walks in 327 1/3 career innings before 2019. In 2019 he allowed 37 walks in 151 1/3 innings. A lot of people might see that as alarming.
However, Reyes was in Double-A for the first time in his career. He spent the entire year there in fact. In 2018 he made 21 appearances in Full-A and six in Advanced-A. The year before that he spent the entire year in Short-A.
So before last season Reyes had no Double-A experience. Meanwhile he had only thrown 123 2/3 innings in Full-A and 32 innings in Advanced-A. This was a significant jump for the left-handed pitcher.
Reyes still managed a decent enough ERA and had a lot of very promising starts where he looked like his usual dominant self.
Now the reason some might struggle to rank him as such a high prospect are his pitches. He doesn’t have any devastating or dominant pitch.
What I see though is someone with really strong command. He has control over all of his pitches, none of which are bad.
His worst pitch is the curveball. It has a nice drop to it and sits in the mid-70s. However, he leaves it flat at times and has weird usage of the pitch where it feels like he doesn’t throw it for a long time, then throws a few in one inning.
His slider is solid. Nothing too great about it, a mid-80s slider with decent bite to it. At times it can get really sharp but usually it’s just a standard slider. Good enough to get people swinging when they aren’t expecting it.
His fastball is really nice. It sits in the low-90s which is probably why people don’t care too much about it. It has a sharp cut to it and his control over the pitch is superb. When Reyes is on he can absolutely dot the corners with the pitch and frustrate hitters. If you go look at his most dominant games of the 2019 year, you’ll notice it’s almost as if he has the fastball on a string and it putting it exactly where he wants.
Big surprise here, my favorite pitch of his is the changeup. It sits in the low-80s and has a good drop off to it. He throws it often, which I love. Mixing that with his changeup is often all he needs to get hitters out. The changeup creates a ton of weak contact as hitters are out in front and overtop of the pitch.
Reyes didn’t have the year the Red Sox were hoping for in 2019 but there’s still plenty to love. The step-up in competition was big as this was ultimately a double promotion with how little he pitched in Advanced-A in 2018. Boston will start him in Double-A again in 2020 and a promotion could be in the works.
Barring a return to his 2018 dominance though, Reyes will likely spend all season in the minors. A trip to the Majors in 2021 is in the cards though.