JUPITER, Fl. (KMOV.com) -- Alex Reyes took the mound Tuesday for his third bullpen session of spring.
His session included two sets of 25 pitches, mixing in breaking balls with his signature fastball.
According to manager Mike Matheny, the 21-year-old is right on track with his rehab schedule and will continue to follow the medical team’s plan moving into March.
John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations for the Cards, said this winter the team did not expect Reyes to return to the active roster until early May. The phenom suffered a complete tear of his ulnar collateral ligament during spring training last year, undergoing Tommy John surgery on February 16.
Now, a year and a handful of days since that setback, his return to action is on the horizon; a prospect that is thrilling to both the organization and their fans.
When he debuted two years ago, the electric righty posted a 1.52 ERA over 46 innings. He averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings, and his lethal pitch arsenal led to opposing hitters batting .201 and slugging just .280 against him.
For the stat heads, Reyes had a 261 ERA+ in 2016. Carlos Martinez’s best ERA+ for a season was 133 in 2016. Sample size matters, but 261 is still extremely impressive.
Even with the progress, it’s unclear if Reyes will move forward enough to see any Grapefruit League action this spring. His recovery has gone according to plan thus far, which could provide an opportunity for game action in late March, but UCL rehab is rife of minor setbacks and often requires easing off the gas.
“I’m always hesitant to say. I don’t want him to start pushing anything too hard,” Matheny said of the possibility of Reyes appearing in a spring game. “If I were to say yes, and anything at all were to slow it down- which is very typical- then that would be like a ‘missed benchmark’ and I don’t think that’s fair to him.”
For now, the young righty is slowly building arm endurance and starting to refine his command. After so much time away from the mound, regaining precise control over multiple pitches is a day-by-day process, made more difficult by limited workload. Patience is paramount for the young pitcher, especially as camp ramps up and his peers ready themselves for games.
“As a competitor, of course I want to be on the field game one of spring training if possible,” Reyes told KMOX after his session Tuesday. “But those are the things that come with surgery. You have to be realistic with it.”