Baltimore Orioles: 2019 Is A Make or Break Season for Jomar Reyes

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - APRIL 08: The cap and glove of starting pitcher Chris Tillman. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - APRIL 08: The cap and glove of starting pitcher Chris Tillman. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Baltimore Orioles prospect Jomar Reyes has spent the past three seasons playing for the Frederick Keys.  He needs to improve and progress in 2019, especially with a new regime in place.

Third base prospect Jomar Reyes has been in the Baltimore Orioles organization for five years.  Reyes, a native of Santo Domingo Centro in the Dominican Republic, was signed by the Orioles in January 2014 at the tender age of sixteen (he turns 22 on February 20th).

Reyes made his organizational debut in the Gulf Coast League (Rookie) in 2014 and moved quickly through the system.  He reached Frederick (A-High) in 2016 and unfortunately has been there ever since.

That promotion to Frederick in 2016 came on the heels of a successful 2015 season in Delmarva (A-Low) where he slashed .278/ .334/ .440 with five home runs and 44 RBI in 84 games.  His wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) was 119 (100 is considered average) and MLB Pipeline had him listed as the Orioles’ #4 prospect.

The move to the Carolina League proved challenging for Reyes as his slash line dropped to .228/ .271/ .336 in 126 games.  His home run tally doubled to 10 but his RBI total stayed essentially the same at 51 while his wRC+ fell to 66, which was well below average.

At age 19, and three and a half years younger on average than his peers in 2016, the drop-off was to be expected and resulted in a return to Frederick for the 2017 campaign.  Unfortunately, Reyes demonstrated his immaturity level which cost him over three months of the season.  Following a game against the Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee Brewers affiliate) in which he went 2 for 5 with a run scored and two RBI, Reyes punched a wall and broke his right pinky finger.  The injury resulted in surgery and the insertion of a pin in order to heal.

Limited to just 50 games in Frederick in 2017, Reyes found himself there again in 2018.  He also saw his prospect ranking in the organization take a hit as he fell to #17.

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The 2018 season was a bit of a bounce-back for Reyes as he slashed .262/ .308/ .381 with eight home runs and 48 RBI in 116 games.  He remained below average, however, with a 94 wRC+ and found himself left off of the Top-30 Baltimore Orioles prospect list.  I saw Reyes play in Frederick several times in 2018 and must say that he looked disinterested and distant in the field, especially.  He possesses an above average arm but lacks range and quickness and may not be destined for third base.

Concerning to me is the fact that he has produced just 22 home runs in three seasons in Frederick; Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium, the home of the Keys, is considered a hitter’s ballpark.  The attitude I can partially understand as being frustrated with remaining in place for three years but the counter-argument to that is better performance results in promotions and that performance is in his hands.

The Baltimore Orioles have a new regime (Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde) in place so while Reyes may not be able to escape his past, he does have a chance to make a good impression on a new set of evaluators.  The upcoming 2019 season is a pivotal one for him as he needs to show himself worthy of a move to at least AA Bowie. Additionally, Reyes needs to show that he is healthy and far removed from a litany of injuries: sprained right thumb (2015), hamate bone (2015) and broken pinky (2017).

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Reyes has both young age and raw power on his side but he does need to put it all together as he will risk exposure to the Rule-5 Draft at the end of the season.  I’d like to see him stay with the Orioles’ organization but he may very well benefit form a fresh start in another organization.  Reyes’ baseball future is in his hands and how his 2019 season goes will have the final say in that future.