On Monday, Franmil Reyes rocketed a pitch deep into the left center field stands for his first spring homer. The big outfielder is making the best of his first taste of major league pitching and looks right at home in big league camp this spring.
At the age of 16 in the Dominican Summer League, Franmil Reyes dreamed of MLB service time.
The tall and lanky (at the time) outfielder put up a very respectable .267/.360/.416 batting line in 67 games and 243 at bats that 2012 season. He displayed some real power potential, recording four homers, four triples, and 14 doubles, while also stealing 12 bases. The young Dominican recorded a .775 OPS at the age of 16 and looked to be a real prospect to watch.
The next year, the Padres sent him to the AZL where he slashed .292/.355/.431 in 57 games and 209 at bats. That earned him a trip to Eugene (short season ball), where he went 9-44 (.205) with a homer in 12 games. He got his feet wet away from Rookie Ball and performed admirably for a 17-year-old. He showed some decent defensive skills as well, and most importantly, a craving to get better.
Franmil spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons at Fort Wayne. The outfielder struggled so far away from his home in the Dominican. At the ages of 18 and 19, he put up productive numbers, but you had a sense that he was capable of much more, especially with his developing power. The 6′ 3″ Reyes was starting to fill out his frame during this time. He discovered weight lifting and worked on developing quickness and strength.
He put up a .248/.301/.368 slash line his first season in the Mid West League, then put up a .255/.320/.393 batting line the next season. He played in 128 and 123 games in each season and was constantly in the lineup each and every day for the TinCaps. Reyes only hit 19 total homers during that time in Indiana, though. That was unusual for his size and power potential, but they do always say that power is the last thing to develop in hitters. For a man of his size to only hit 19 dingers in nearly 1,000 at bats was a bit concerning for the Padres, but they knew better than to sour on the big, right-handed hitter.
In 2016, Reyes began to really find his stroke. Sure, the California League helped, as it is notorious for being a hitter-friendly league. Reyes slugged 16 home runs for the Storm in 130 games and 493 at bats. He also improved his OBP to a .340 clip. The slugger will strike out, that is just part of his game, but if he can take a walk here and there, he will maximize his potential to develop. A very successful 2016 season in Lake Elsinore earned him a start in San Antonio for the 2017 season. Franmil Reyes responded to the promotion big time.
The now 6′ 5″ and 240 lb Reyes led all Padres’ minor leaguers in home runs (25) and RBI (102) for the 2017 season. His OPS and walks are still not where you want them to be, but he has certainly shown the ability to drive the ball out of the park and get the big hit when needed. Reyes has turned himself into a viable prospect, and if the Padres’ system were not so loaded, would surely be getting some more attention than he is presently getting. When speaking about Reyes to his teammates, their eyes light up. They enjoy their time with the big man, who is more a teddy bear than an intimidating presence. He brings chemistry to a team.
I have had the pleasure of interacting with Franmil on a few occasions. I found him quite engaging, and despite a slight language barrier, he is more than willing to communicate. He is eager to learn English better, and with a work ethic like that, the sky is the limit. When attempting to gauge talent and what it will ultimately be in the game, factors like drive and ambition have to be added to the equation. Those intangibles are not seen on a stat sheet and must be witnessed firsthand in order to appreciate them. Let me tell you, Franmil has these qualities, and nothing will stop this 22-year-old from attaining his goals. Keep an eye on Franmil. He is far more than just a powerful bat.