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Prospect Retro; Jose Reyes

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Jose Reyes Prospect Retro

Jose Reyes was signed by the Mets as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1999. He made his pro debut in 2000, hitting .250/.359/.318 for Kingsport in the Appy League at age 17. At this point, his best attributes were defensive: his range, hands, arm strength, and athleticism drew raves from scouts. But his bat was questionable. He drew some walks, but he lacked power and it was uncertain if he would hit at higher levels. At this point, he'd rate as a Grade C prospect: athletic, young, but a long way from the majors. He wasn't listed among the Mets top prospects and was overshadowed by other players in the Appy League.

That changed in 2001. Reyes hit .307/.337/.472 in 100 games for Capital City in the Sally League, hitting 22 doubles and 15 triples and stealing 30 bases. He continued to draw praise for his glovework, but his bat had taken a huge step forward. He remained rather impatient, but the stunning development of his power to the gaps was a great sign. I gave him a Grade B+ in the 2002 book, writing that he could turn into Nomar Garciaparra if his bat continued to develop, or Neifi Perez if it stagnated. I ranked him as the Number 46 prospect in baseball.

Reyes began '02 with St. Lucie in the Florida State League, hitting .288/.353/.462 with 31 steals in 69 games. Promoted to Double-A at midseason, he hit well for Binghamton at .287/.331/.425 with 27 steals. He improved his walk rate sharply, drawing 46 walks on the year compared to just 18 all season in '01. I gave him a Grade A in the '03 book, warning that he might not help much right away in '03 but that he was a terrific long-term investment.

He helped a lot sooner than expected in '03, hitting .269/.333/.356 in 42 games in Triple-A but a much stronger .307/.334/.434 in 69 games for the Mets, at age 20. Injuries slowed him down in '04 and he hit just .255 with weak power, but he had a fair rebound season in '05, and was outstanding in '06. Reyes is certainly one of the most exciting young players in the game today. If he continues to develop his plate discipline and remains healthy, he should have a spectacular career.

His minor league record started off slowly in rookie ball, but he made gigantic strides in his second season and kept the momentum going. Reyes is a good example of a Tools Player who learned baseball skills and successfully applied them. He is a Seven Skill middle infielder, a rare bird indeed.