There are questions about so many prospects heading into the 2021 campaign because of the cancelled minor league season in 2020. Of the players who have the biggest question marks, those whose stateside debuts were anticipated and then delayed in 2020 have to top the list. The lack of information is, frankly, impossible to navigate. So...let’s talk about Adinso Reyes.
Reyes was very good in his professional debut, slashing .331/.379/.508 with seven homers across 62 games in the Dominican Summer League in 2019. He showed a lot of promise and was certainly on the track to play stateside in 2020 before that was shut down. That makes the Tigers decision on where to play him this season a little more interesting, but he’s got potential and will certainly be a player to watch. But until we get a look at him in A-ball he’s going to remain a bit of mystery.
The Detroit Tigers signed Reyes during the 2018 International Free Agency period out of the Dominican Republic. His $1.45 million bonus is one of the largest the club has ever paid. Good batspeed and a frame with plenty of power potential were his calling cards. He showed he could hit at the DSL level in 2019 and displayed his burgeoning power potential, so he was a player we were particularly interested in before the pandemic erased minor league baseball for the season.
Reyes stands six-foot-one, and weighs in at a well built 210 pounds. There isn’t much physical projection left, but he’s got substantial raw power already. He played shortstop initially but is expected to move to third base, and could be pretty good there. 2021 will be his age-19 season, and he’s yet to play rookie ball in the US, so patience is going to be required. Still, Reyes is representative of a group of incoming international free agents the Tigers have spent big on since the new bonus pool system was enacted prior to the 2017-2018 signing period.
Reyes has some chops defensively, but it’s his bat the Tigers were interested in. He hit for average and power at the lower levels, and was pretty well regarded for his future slugging potential when the Tigers signed him at 16. If Reyes really puts in together at the plate they’ll have themselves a middle of the order power threat. For now, he’s an interesting name that we’re very much interested in seeing in full season ball this year.
For young hitters, especially those with power, it’s not uncommon for their approach to be pull heavy. That isn’t the case with the right-handed hitting Reyes. He spreads the ball around the yard, and he can do it with conviction. His Baseball Savant spray chart is beautiful. He’s only faced young, inexperienced pitchers at this point, but we like seeing some opposite field power.
That kind of advanced approach will serve him well if he can continue to display that as he climbs the ladder. FanGraphs has an average grade on Reyes future hit tool, and a 55 grade, above average, on his raw power. He seems to have a realistic shot to be an impact hitter if he continues to adapt to better pitching. As an organization, the Tigers have struggled to identify top international free agent talent over the last decade. Reyes is one of the new wave of players from overseas that have a chance to flip the script.
There is something to be said about his defense too. The reports are very good. According to MLB Pipeline, he’s got the hands and arm to remain on the dirt long term.
On defense, Reyes shows good hands and a good arm, which he’ll need to stick in the infield. He’s a competitor who has been praised for his intensity on the field and how he really enjoys playing the game.
Getting good marks for his age on offense and defense is a good thing. For an organization that hasn’t been the given the best outlook on the international market, Detroit seems to have found a gem in Reyes. That said, there is a ton of risk with J2 signings because so much can change.
If it’s not clear right now, the biggest weakness for us is lack of information. Scouting the stat line can only go so far in the upper levels, let alone with young players who haven’t played A-ball yet. The physical ability is present, and pretty compelling grades on his hit tool and power potential from FanGraphs and other scouting reports lend intrigue, but Reyes is a long way from the major leagues at this point, with a whole host of possible outcomes before him. His skills are raw and need refinement and it’s a long journey to the majors.
Outside of that, finding a defensive home will be something to monitor. He likely is not a shortstop long term due to his stocky build. Presumably this means a move to third base, where his arm and bat should play. FanGraphs has a double plus grade on Reyes arm but he isn’t fleet of foot enough to consider in right field. He could play second base too, but that seems less likely at this point.
Going back to the stat line, his ability to lift the ball will be something to keep an eye on. Reyes has displayed power, but he also hit the ball on the ground at a 43.5 percent clip. While that’s not terrible, power will play better if that lowers a little bit. We’re also talking about a 62 game sample. Truly, this is just getting nitpicky. He’s 19, and there’s little to do but sit back this season and see what the Tigers have in him. After a year under wraps, he could come out this year and look great, or he could look like a young player just getting his feet wet stateside. Judgements should be delayed either way.
Projected 2021 Team: Low-A Lakeland Flying Tigers
According to a report for the Detroit Free Press, after working out on his own and finally making to instructs just a few months ago, Reyes tested positive for COVID-19. Presumably that won’t affect his assignment this spring.
This is the next logical step for Reyes. He likely would’ve seen this competition in some capacity in 2020, but since that didn’t happen there is no need to rush the 19-year-old infielder. This comes with the caveat that he could be called up quickly if he excels. Had everything gone normally in 2020, Reyes might be bound for High-A West Michigan, but the process of getting comfortable playing full season pro ball in America shouldn’t be underestimated.
The organization has more information than we do, but they also haven’t seen him in regular games since 2019. Other prospects at least have more of a track record to point to. Reyes excites because he has real potential as a future middle of the order bat if everything goes well, but he’s kind of an enigma at this point. Which only adds to our interest in following his progress this year.