The Cardinals have signed righthander Alex Reyes out of the Dominican Republic for $950,000, one of the biggest bonuses of the year for an international amateur pitcher and the top international bonus of 2012 for the Cardinals.
Reyes, 18, took an unconventional path to pro ball. Born in the United States, Reyes grew up with his parents in Elizabeth, N.J. and played high school baseball there, but he moved to the Dominican Republic to stay with extended family last winter, then waited one year to be eligible to sign. He lived in Palenque and trained with former Nationals scout Juan Valera and Basilio Vizcaino (known as "Cachaza"), the same duo that worked with Padres $700,000 outfielder Franmil Reyes (no relation).
Even though Reyes worked with Vizcaino, one of the most high-profile trainers in Latin America, very few teams appear to have scouted him. According to international sources, Felix Francisco had heavily courted Reyes while he was in charge of Houston's Latin American program this summer. When the Astros let Francisco go and he joined the Royals as a special assignment scout, Kansas City showed strong interest in Reyes and he had spent time at their academy, but Reyes opted to sign with the Cardinals instead.
Those who have seen Reyes say he is 6-foot-3, 185 pounds and has had his fastball increase in recent months, going from the high-80s to sitting 90-93 mph and touching 94. A converted shortstop, Reyes' best offspeed pitch is his changeup, which he already sells with good arm speed, and he mixes in a curveball as well. Given his age, Reyes, who is fluent in English and Spanish, could start his career in the United States, likely in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Reyes' bonus is the second-biggest of the year for a Dominican pitcher, behind only Cubs righthander Juan Carlos Paniagua ($1.5 million). Venezuelan lefthander Jose Castillo ($1.55 million from the Rays) and Venezuelan righthander Jose Mujica ($1 million from the Rays) were the only other international amateur pitchers who signed for more money this year, excluding Cubans.
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