Alex Reyes will be ready if the Cardinals call on him to pitch t -

Alex Reyes will be ready if the Cardinals call on him to pitch this weekend

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(BaseballStL) -- Alex Reyes was pulled after three innings from his start in Memphis (Class AAA) Tuesday night, leading to speculation that he may be called upon to throw Saturday in Miami.

If he is, Reyes told BaseballStL he would be ready.

The personable 21-year-old, whose family moved to the Dominican Republic after high school in New Jersey to enhance his chances of signing a professional contract, says this year has been one of adjustment.

“I’m adjusting to a new league. Sometimes I’m not getting the results I wanted and sometimes some (baseball) stuff isn’t going my way, like broken bats hits. But that happens in baseball.”

Reyes has only thrown 55 innings this season, having served a 50-game suspension for marijuana use, an episode for which he has apologized several times and has said he deeply regrets. But that is in the past now and Reyes said that the decision about whether to call him up for a start rests with the big club.

“That’s their call,” he said, one that it appears likely the front office will make because Reyes was abruptly pulled from his start after just three innings. During that short start, he fanned seven hitters, but gave up two runs on two hits and a walk.

Because the big club played a doubleheader Tuesday night in New York, they will need to find a starter for Saturday’s important contest against the Marlins in Miami. With limited options since they prefer not to burn up their bullpen, the Cards figure to look to Reyes, their number one prospect and one of the most highly rated in all of baseball.

“I’ve come a long way this year. I’m throwing well and my body feels good. I’m working on commanding my pitches. I need to be able to throw my curveball whenever I need it,” something that has not always been the case this year. While Reyes throws a knee-bending breaking ball, he has not always been able to throw it for a strike, something that has hurt him in Memphis. “I have to be able to expand the zone with it. When I’m up 0-2 in the count, I’ve got to be able to finish them off with that pitch.”

Reyes said one of the biggest differences in playing at Memphis from Springfield (class AA) is that pitchers have to make quality pitches in the strike zone. “(In the lower levels) if I threw a 3-2 breaking ball in the dirt, they would chase it. They don’t here. I have to try to position myself to get a strikeout with a runner on third. These hitters are experienced and it takes time to learn them and how to pitch differently in certain situations,” he said. “I also need to be able to control the running game a little better.”

The thoughtful youngster with the 95+ mph fastball said his best off-speed pitch is the changeup, something he learned on his way through the Cards’ minor league system. “That’s the pitch that separates me when it is working well,” he said. And while his walks are up this year, that is mostly due to the refinement of the hitters, not a loss of control. Reyes said the hitters at Class AAA are more discriminating and less likely to swing at pitches out of the zone.

For the year, he has surrendered 51 hits and 27 walks, accounting for a WHIP of 1.42. But he has also fanned 79, something the Cardinals covet given the defensive struggles they have endured at times this season.

The young pitcher who bounced pitches into the plate in his first starts in low Class A Peoria has advanced faster than projected and carries the easy disposition that young pitchers needs to have. In an interview with BaseballStL two years ago when he was still in the Cards low minor league system, Reyes was asked about the pressure of being a highly rated prospect.

“I don’t want to be a prospect,” he said at the time. “I want to pitch in the major leagues.” Saturday, he may get that chance.

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