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Padres Call Up Minor League Home Run Leader Franmil Reyes

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One of the year’s biggest breakouts is headed to the majors.

The Padres are promoting outfielder Franmil Reyes from Triple-A El Paso today, as reported and confirmed by multiple outlets. The East Village Times was the first to report the move.

Reyes, 22, had the fifth-highest average exit velocity in the minors this year, according to data supplied to Baseball America. He leads all of professional baseball—majors and minors—with 14 home runs, and his .738 slugging percentage, 96 total bases and 36 RBI were tops in Triple-A.

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Reyes, who signed with the Padres for $700,000 in 2011, has always had enormous raw power. He led the Padres organization with 25 home runs last year at Double-A San Antonio, and scouts graded his raw power a 70 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale in the Arizona Fall League last year.

And yet the Padres left Reyes unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, and he went unpicked. There were two reasons: First, Reyes broke his hamate bone in the AFL, an ill-timed injury that was the primary reason the Padres left him off their 40-man roster. Second, his approach left evaluators skeptical he could get to his power against upper-level pitching, with his 134 strikeouts to 48 walks at Double-A a concerning ratio.

But Reyes has made a few adjustments since then. For one, he is an adept breaking ball hitter, something rarely seen in the minor leagues, where most power prospects simply hunt fastballs and lay off breaking pitches. Second, the heady, mature Reyes has become stronger at getting into the counts he wants and limiting his chases. As a result, he’s increased his walk rate more than five percent while cutting his strikeout rate by over three percent.

“He can really hit,” one evaluator said last year, even before the improvements. “Good (at-bats), doesn’t strike out. Not a ton of tools and doesn’t move well, but there is something there. I bet he plays in the big leagues.”

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Reyes’ defensive limitations—he’s a below-average defender in right field in part because of his size—limits his ceiling, with most evaluators seeing him as a platoon power bat.

But for the Padres, that’s enough. Their .362 slugging percentage ranks 29th in the majors—ahead of only the stripped-down Marlins—and their two biggest righthanded power threats, Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe, are currently on the disabled list.

Reyes is set to make his major league debut against the Rockies Monday night. He will take the 40-man roster spot that opened when the Padres designated Chase Headley for assignment. A corresponding 25-man roster move has yet to be announced.

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