The difference between Memphis hurler Arturo Reyes today and the one BaseballStL first interviewed three years ago when he was in low Class A Peoria can be summarized in one sentence.
“One bad start won’t ruin your career, unless you let it.”
Reyes, just a 40th round draft pick out of Gonzaga in 2013, was in the same rotation with the Cards’ first pick that year, Marco Gonzales. Signed for short money and low expectations, Reyes has adjusted to the demands of every level of the minor leagues and now finds himself in a rotation that includes former major leaguers Jerome Williams and (formerly) Jeremy Hefner, as well as the Cards’ top prospect, Alex Reyes (no relation).
“It’s a matter of pitch sequencing and consistent execution of pitches at this level,” Reyes said. “There’s less room for error (in Class AAA) because the hitters we face are more refined and more consistent in their approach. You have to have a short memory and just remember the good things that happened. The mental part of the game is very important here.”
Reyes was featured in a BaseballStL story this spring in which he credited his mentoring work with a young child in the off-season for an about face in his own attitude. Reyes said he saw a negative attitude in the child evolve into an almost self-destructive and self-fulfilling loop of failure and frustration. That, he realized, was what his coaches had been trying to make him see about himself. Although he has not seen the young man for quite awhile, he still stays in touch with him and keeps the self-taught lesson close to his heart.
Travel, he said, is also a big change from Class-AA and something that takes some time to get used to. “There are a lot of early morning flights, connections, and (time spent traveling to and from hotels and airports). There are also games in different time zones so it takes some getting used to. But that is just the reality of it.”
One benefit of playing in the Pacific Coast League is the opportunity to play a few games a year near his family, who still reside in Washington. Playing in Tacoma allowed his family to see him play and the entire Reyes clan made a Memorial Day trip to Las Vegas to watch him pitch.
Reyes hadn't seen his parents since he left for spring training and his grandparents since the 2015 Texas League All-Star Game, the Cardinals wrote in a release at the time. On Memorial Day in Sin City, he made the wait worth it.
Matching the longest outing of his career, the right-handed St. Louis prospect tossed eight shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out five as Triple-A Memphis cruised to a 9-3 win over Las Vegas.
"There have been times when I've had some rough outings when my parents come because I'm trying to do a little too much or something like that," Reyes was quoted in the release. "I took that into consideration where I was just going to try to stay as relaxed as I could, trust what we had going for us and not try to do anything different. To put on a good performance for them was just amazing."
The 24-year-old's parents, Jorge and Nereyida, made the trip to Las Vegas from their home in Washington while his grandparents, Arturo and Idalia, flew north from Monterrey, Mexico. Then there was an even bigger contingent of extended family on hand to cheer him on.
Reyes recalled that outing, saying he sometimes “stepped out of my abilities” and tried to put on a show for his family, resulting in poor performances. “I just let it be a game. It was very smooth.”
Reyes, now 5-4 with a 5.35 ERA after a few early rocky starts, said the key to pitching is to disrupt the hitter’s timing. “You have to execute your plan and execute your pitches. Bad outings are frustrating, but they happen. But you learn more from a bad outing than you do from a good one. They’re frustrating, but one bad outing can’t ruin your career unless you let it. You just have to trust the process.”