I’ve talked about a lot of second basemen in the upper levels over the last week, focusing primarily on Alen Hanson and Max Moroff. Those two are going to be battling for the second base job of the future in the next few years, although there are a few options in the lower levels who could emerge as either a Plan B/C, or as future trade depth if Hanson or Moroff work out.
One of those options is Pablo Reyes, who is an interesting prospect that has emerged in West Virginia. Reyes spent two years in the DSL, then got an aggressive push to Bristol last year, skipping over the GCL. He hit for a .272/.367/.367 line, showing a good ability to get on base, but a lack of power. The Pirates liked what they saw, and gave him another aggressive promotion, this time to West Virginia.
So far this year, Reyes has been the opposite of his 2014 campaign. He has a .239/.319/.444 line in 142 at-bats. He’s showing the power, but lacking the average and the on-base skills that he put up last year. West Virginia manager Brian Esposito said that Reyes is going to go through his growing pains, and mentioned that they were focused on him staying prepared for every pitch.
Reyes shows off some power potential, with a lot of hard hit balls to the gaps. He’s also got some speed, allowing him to take some extra bases. He could get to that point where he does it all — hitting for average, getting on base, and hitting for power — but that will take a more mature approach at the plate. He doesn’t strike out much, at 17.5%, and walks a good amount at 10.6%, so he’s got a good foundation to be a complete hitter.
Defensively, Reyes moved off shortstop right away. He’s got the range for short, but lacks arm strength, and isn’t consistent with his fielding. At second base, he moves around like a shortstop, running to and attacking the ball, and showing a lot of range. However, this can lead to some issues defensively, as he gets too wild at times.
“It’s a matter of teaching him to be under control,” Esposito said. “There’s some things that he speeds up a little bit. He lets the game speed him up, and then some of his mistakes are careless. We’re in the process right now of just slowing him down, and making sure that pre-pitch he’s ready for every pitch.”
The focus right now has been making sure Reyes is in a ready setup on defense prior to the pitch. That will allow him to maximize his range, and will allow him to field the ball cleaner, eliminating some careless mistakes.
Reyes is a project, but he’s got a lot of potential offensively and defensively at second. Right now, with Hanson and Moroff in the upper levels, Reyes is just bonus depth for the Pirates. If he works out, then they have a backup plan if the other two prospects fail to make it. If he isn’t needed, then the Pirates can use him as a trade chip in the future, helping to fill another team need.