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Orioles prospect season in review: Jomar Reyes

The third baseman posted solid numbers when he was on the diamond, but a significant off-field issue caused him to miss multiple months.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Jomar Reyes is a name that has been plenty mentioned in the Orioles organization over the past several years, but there’s never been a surefire prediction in terms of what his future as a prospect is going to be. And as we approach this offseason following his age 20 season, there’s just as much uncertainty.

The infielder has spent time as a hot name on the top prospect list, but he’s spent just as much of his time in the unknown territory in terms of future projection — especially after an incident you might remember reading about earlier this year. In case you forgot, here’s an excerpt from a MASN story on May 1:

Farm notes: Single-A Frederick third baseman Jomar Reyes is expected to have surgery this week. He’ll have a pin inserted in his broken right pinky finger and is likely be out for six to eight weeks.

Reyes’ injury was first reported by my colleague Roch Kutbatko, who reported over the weekend that the injury happened when Reyes punched a wall. A Major League Baseball source confirms that report. It reportedly happened after Friday’s game, when Reyes had two hits and drove in two runs.

That’s not exactly the best way to have a breakout year.

Reyes, after a disappointing 2016 season that saw him post just a .607 OPS in 464 at-bats with Frederick, didn’t return to the diamond until August 4, missing three major summer months following the incident with the wall. It’s worth noting that he was slashing .321/.361/.436 in the month of April.

Back for the final month of the season, he posted similar numbers, finishing the season at Frederick with a .302 average and a fairly decent .767 OPS. They were perfectly respectable stats — but at the single-A level in a year that looked as though it might be important in Reyes’ development, you might be able to label the year somewhat of a disappointment.

One of the trickiest things about Reyes’ game is the fact that there remains a large level of unknown in terms of just who he is at the dish. In 325 games with the organization, he’s posted a mere .397 slugging percentage. Sure, conventional wisdom tells us that power can come with development, but is there any sign in the stats that indicates the boost is coming?

Also of note are his fielding abilities at third base, which, just glancing over the numbers, don’t inspire much confidence. After posting a .914 fielding percentage over a full year last season, Reyes committed 13 errors in 47 games in 2017, wrapping up the year with a .899 mark. Again, we haven’t seen the tape, but there’s something concerning about a total of 38 errors in a season and a half.

Taking the full year into account, one fact emerges: 2017 did nothing in telling us what future Reyes might have with the Orioles.

On one side, you could make the argument that a 20-year-old hitting .302 at high-A isn’t a feat to be taken lightly and that it should put Reyes on the radar for at least the near future. On the other, there are the fielding concerns, the low power numbers and of course the whole wall-punching incident that doesn’t exactly help the cause.

Moving into this offseason, there’s a giant question mark next to Reyes’ name in terms of status as a prospect. He’s ranked 17th by MLB Pipeline and will likely hang around, but it’s very unclear what type of year we should expect in 2018.

Monday: Alex Wells