New York Mets
Position: SS Height: 6-0 Weight: 160 Born: 6/11/83 Bats: Switch Throws: Right
The Mets signed Jose Reyes out of the Dominican Republic in 1999. He went to the Appalachian League directly in 2000, hitting .250, but impressing with his defensive skills. It was a pretty big jump; most Dominicans go to the Dominican Summer League or the rookie level Gulf Coast League to begin their careers. He moved up to full-season ball in '01, hitting .307 with 22 doubles, 15 triples, and 20 steals for Class A Columbia. He followed that up with another strong season in '02, reaching Double-A for the second half and thriving there. He began '03 in Triple-A, and was promoted to New York on June 10.
Reyes has been the youngest or one of the youngest players in his league every year. His defensive skills draw the most praise. His arm is strong and reasonably accurate, while his range afield is excellent. He still makes careless errors of youth and inexperience, but those should ease with time. Many believe he will be a Gold Glove shortstop down the road.
Reyes has hitting skills, too. He makes solid contact, does not strike out excessively, and has gap power. His large number of triples is a testament to his speed, as well as his ability to drive the ball into the gaps. Reyes will never be a huge home run threat, but should be good for double-digits eventually. He runs well, gets a great jump, and is a solid percentage stealer. Reyes is impatient at times, and will need to do a better job of working the count, especially if he wants to hit at the top of the order.
Reyes has shown an admirable ability to hit for average, knock lots of extra base hits, and wreck havoc on pitchers and catchers once on base. His plate discipline needs work, and has taken a hit since he reached Double-A. Right now, he projects as a .240-.260 hitter at the major league level, which isn't bad for someone who just turned 20 and has just 107 games to his credit against advanced pitching. Given a normal growth curve, he'll be much better than that eventually.
Reyes has had no significant injury problems.
What to expect
Some scouts compare Reyes to Alfonso Soriano, due to his athleticism. Another name mentioned at times is Edgar Renteria. Personally, Reyes reminds me of Cristian Guzman, and his skill set is similar. Like Guzman, Reyes will probably be erratic, playing extremely well at times, but also struggling with consistency. Like Guzman, Reyes relies on his speed and gap power to rack up doubles and triples. Like Guzman, he is brilliant on defense but also occasionally sloppy. Like Guzman, he needs better plate discipline to get the most out of his ability. Shea Stadium is not a great environment for developing young hitters, so Reyes will face a handicap there. I don't expect big things from him offensively for at least a year or two, but his glove will keep him employed long enough for his hitting to come around.
John Sickels is the author of the 2003 Baseball Prospect Book, which can be ordered from his Web site, JohnSickels.com. His biography of Bob Feller will be published this fall by Brassey's. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with his wife, son, and two cats. You can send John questions or comments at JASickels@aol.com.