This player preview was written by Josh G., who posts here as jeg.
The 2009 season will likely be a “make or break” season for 24 year old Jo-Jo Reyes. With Charlie Morton being set back by injury this spring and Glavine still recovering from offseason surgery, Jo-Jo will compete with Jorge Campillo and Tommy Hanson for the 5th starter spot and could get yet another crack at the starting rotation to open the season. Reyes, formerly the organization’s top pitching prospect, has struggled with his command and control throughout his major league career.
In 2008, Reyes was a serviceable starter throughout the first half of the season. However, he had an awful second half in which he was homer prone and posted an 8.92 ERA and allowed 53 hits in 35.1 innings. Reyes’ regressed in terms of his command as the season progressed, even after pitching coach Roger McDowell tweaked the alignment of his left foot relative to the rubber in hopes of improving his suspect command.
Reyes has dominated AA and AAA hitters in both the 2007 and 2008 seasons and has little left to prove at the minor league level. Though Reyes was a very successful minor league pitcher, he posted less than ideal walk rates. He has above average stuff for a lefthander but his inability to locate it down in the zone has prevented him from achieving sustained success at the major league level.
Geared toward contact, Reyes fastball sits at 89-91 and tops out at 93. His fastball has some sink to it but its effectiveness is limited when left up in the zone. A slow curve with 11-5 break is likely Reyes’ best pitch but it is often left high in the zone and is subsequently hit 350+ feet. His curve is a big breaker and is on average 19 mph slower than his fastball. Reyes also throws a slider around 80 mph that is nontraditional in the sense that its thrown slower and has more vertical break than the average slider.
Reyes has the talent to be a mid-rotation starter but if he cannot improve his command, he will wind up a reliever. Though still young, Reyes has not made the most of his opportunities at the major league level and with talented prospects like Tommy Hanson coming up quickly behind him plus the additions of Vazquez, Lowe, and Kawamaki to the rotation, he is quickly running out of time to establish himself as a major league starter with this organization. Improved command and control are the keys to a successful 2009 campaign for Jo-Jo Reyes. If he fails to improve, he will likely be moved to the bullpen or traded to another organization.
Thanks to jeg for another great preview.