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MLB Rookie Profile: Franmil Reyes, OF, San Diego Padres

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Padres promote slugger after he tears through Triple-A

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Peoria Javelinas at Glendale Desert Dogs Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Today the San Diego Padres are expected to promote outfield prospect Franmil Reyes to the major league roster. Reyes was annihilating Pacific Coast League pitching and it’s time for the Friars to test his bat. Let’s take a look ourselves.

The Padres signed Reyes as a free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2011. He spent 2012 in the Dominican Summer League then came to the US in ‘13. After mediocre seasons in the Midwest League in ‘14 and ‘15 he had a breakout of sorts in the California League in ‘16, hitting .278/.340/.452 with 16 home runs.

Of course, that was the Cal League, where false breakouts are common.

2017 with San Antonio in the Texas League was a better test and Reyes passed, hitting .258/.322/.464 with 25 homers and 102 RBI. He drew 48 walks in 507 at-bats but also struck out 134 times.

Reyes rated as a Grade C+ prospect pre-season but was just outside the Top 20 on my San Diego Padres prospects list.

His 2018 season for Triple-A El Paso has been outstanding: .346/.442/.738, leading all of the minor leagues with 14 homers so far. He’s drawn 21 walks against 31 strikeouts in 130 at-bats and has been especially hot lately, hitting .543 with seven homers in his last 10 games.

Reyes is listed at 6-5, 240, a right-handed hitter and thrower, age 22, born July 7th, 1995. The Padres signed him for his power but it took him a few years to refine his swing. It was quite long and could get tangled up when I first saw him in the Midwest League in ‘14 but he’s made progress smoothing his stroke out.

He doesn’t have to be a contact hitter but the swing refinements have made it easier for him to translate his strength into game power. He’s also made significant strides honing his pitch recognition skills and his walk rate has more than doubled this year, though perhaps PCL pitchers are just afraid of him at the moment.

Reyes had off-season wrist surgery and I wonder if perhaps the rehab process has served to make him even stronger. He is certainly a big guy and has to work hard to keep his body in shape. He’s not a major threat on the bases but his arm works in right field and he has enough range to be an adequate outfielder although he’ll muff a routine play occasionally.

Ultimately it is the bat that matters here. Reyes shouldn’t be expected to hit .346 outside of the PCL and he’ll have to prove he can keep his swing in gear against major league pitching. That said, the power is entrancing and right now Triple-A is not a challenge for him.

Let him play.