Yesterday I had the rare opportunity of watching a Braves minor league game in person. As a New Jersey resident, it isn’t often that Braves minor league teams venture to the north so when I heard the Rome Braves were in Lakewood playing the Blueclaws, I made some plans to get to the game and scout the squad. My original intention was to scout Victor Caratini, the Braves second round draft pick last season, but Caratini was not playing. The next guy I thought to follow was similarly named Victor Reyes, as he has been on a hot streak of late and has been drawing some comments in our minor league recaps by those who follow them daily – if you aren’t, you definitely should be!
For some background, Victor Reyes is a Venezuelan outfielder who came through the Dominican Summer League during his age 17 season and is in his first season above rookie ball. The 19-year-old is a switch hitter and throws right-handed. His line so far with Rome is .356/.395/.404.
The first thing you think when you see Victor Reyes is, "man, he needs to put on some pounds!" It is reflective in both his swing and his numbers. He has the height to be a guy that can hit for some pop, but he plays like a slap hitter mostly because he probably actually weighs right around the same as me (155 lbs) despite being listed at 170 lbs.
In watching him in the cages during batting practice, his agenda was clear. He wanted to spray line drives the opposite way. While I am sure this is beneficial for his numbers at the lower levels of the minors, it is a bit concerning that he seems content with this being the way he plays. Now, this is only seeing him one time, but his numbers look a lot like what I saw in person and while I certainly get playing to your strengths at this level, hopefully he puts on some weight as he ages and tailors his swing to all fields rather than just the other way.
He is certainly an athlete and the tools he has are sound, which is the most important thing for a youngster at this level. The Braves will likely be extremely, extremely patient with Reyes as he is both very young and very raw. For instance, while he is extremely fast he has not yet turned any doubles into triples and has been caught five out of 11 tries in stealing bases. The Braves starting him at corner outfield spots only is something to take note of, since corner outfield spots are expected to produce power more often than not. In 578 minor league plate appearances, he has yet to hit a home run. This is, again, mostly due to him being extremely thin and having a "go the other way only" approach, from what I was able to determine.
During the game, I saw good range and feel for right field from Reyes defensively. He definitely has the ability to be a plus guy in the corners and his arm is top notch, only on display once as he was holding a runner going from first to third. He went hitless during the game, including a three pitch strikeout, and all of the contact he made was rather weak. I have hope for Reyes to continue to hone in his skills and improve throughout the season and the next few years at the minors, but he needs to fill out his frame and get the most out of his swing, in my opinion.