Reyes Reasserted Himself After Suspension

BEST PLAYER: Though he spent most of the spring in Jupiter, Fla., serving the final 39 games of a 50-game suspension for using marijuana, righthander Alex Reyes asserted himself as the system’s top prospect the moment he arrived at Triple-A Memphis.

The righthander struck out 11 in his third start and 26 in his first 15 innings at the highest affiliate. Through seven starts, he went 2-0, 4.35 with 48 strikeouts in 31 innings.

Reyes continues to show the ability to maintain 100 mph horsepower deep into his starts—in those cases where his pitch efficiency allows him to get deep into starts. All that is keeping Reyes from his big league debut is better pitch economy and the ability to show, start to start, that he cannot only overwhelm hitters with his velocity but also retire them like he does everything else: quickly.

BIGGEST LEAP FORWARD: Less than a year after the Cardinals made Florida center fielder Harrison Bader a third-round pick in 2015, he helped close a gap in the organization.

With the graduation of Stephen Piscotty to the majors, the Cardinals were without a top-shelf position prospect at the upper levels. Bader jumped straight to Double-A Springfield this year and showed he could be the bat to lead the next generation.

“He oozes confidence,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “I think we’ll be forced to make a tough decision in the second half of the season with what we do.”

Through 68 games, Bader hit .300/.363/.519 with 13 home runs, using an aggressive, balanced, righthanded swing. As a leadoff hitter, he worked counts and drew more walks. His play in center has been steady, and the Cardinals were weighing whether he should be pushed to Memphis.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Toward the end of spring training, center fielder Nick Plummer, the 2015 first-round pick from high school in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., had a piece of his hamate bone removed to alleviate soreness in his hand. The Cardinals expected him to return later this season, but then trouble struck in June.

That’s when Plummer required surgery to repair the fibrocartilage complex in his wrist. He will miss the entire season.

Plummer hit .228/.379/.344 in his 2015 pro debut, and the Cardinals expected him to build on his average while maintaining the strike zone sense that earned 39 walks.

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