Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes has a momentous opportunity in front of him in 2008.  He..."/> Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes has a momentous opportunity in front of him in 2008.  He..."/> Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes has a momentous opportunity in front of him in 2008.  He..."/>

It’s Reyes’ Time To Shine

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Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes has a momentous opportunity in front of him in 2008.  He’s in a competition with at least two of his teammates to win one of a couple of open spots in the starting rotation.  This position is nothing new for Reyes, as he was also competing for a spot with the ’06 and ’07 clubs.  The difference this time around however, is that if he’s unsuccessful, he could pitch his way out of the Cardinals’ organization altogether.

Reyes, 26, was drafted by the Cards out of USC in the 15th round in 2003. He quickly moved up the ranks, pitching in 7 games for the Palm Beach Cardinals and 12 for the AA Tennessee Smokies in 2004.  He had a good year with the AAA Memphis Redbirds in ’05, and was considered the Cardinals’ top pitching prospect.  His success earned him his first call-up in August of  ’05, where he earned the win against the Milwaukee Brewers, pitching 6 1/3 innings and giving up just two runs on two hits.  He was even more impressive in his second call-up in June of ’06, where he pitched an eight inning complete game one-hitter against the World Champion White Sox in Chicago.  The lone hit was a solo home run to Jim Thome, and Reyes took the loss.  Reyes also dominated the first game of the ’06 World Series against the Tigers, going 8 innings and giving up two runs on four hits, and setting a rookie record by retiring 17 consecutive batters.  View all of Reyes stats here.

Aside from a few flashes of brilliance, Reyes has had a tough time translating his minor league success to the big leagues.  In 2007, he finished with a very forgettable 2-14 record and a 6.04 ERA.  The lack of run support that Reyes got only partially attributed to his abysmal season.  Many fans believe Reyes isn’t on the same page as pitching coach Dave Duncan, and the debate on whether to throw the two or four-seam fastball never ends.

Reyes’ competition, both Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson, could end up in the bullpen if they fail to make the rotation.  Reyes, on the other hand, is more suited to be a starter.  Although he still has an option year, and Memphis is again a possibility, it’s more likely that if he doesn’t make the cut, a trade would be forthcoming.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Reyes had an intense workout regimen this off-season, and spent a lot of time working on locating his pitches and keeping the ball down.  Anthony apparently feels good this spring, and his comfort level and optimism is encouragingly high.

“I feel like my old self again,” Reyes said.  “I’m doing things I used to be comfortable doing.”

Goold says that Reyes looked good in camp today, and is scheduled to make the start against the Mets on Thursday.  Check out all of his notes from Jupiter here.

The bottom line:  Reyes needs to forget about last season, pitch the way he knows he’s capable, and show Cardinals’ fans the reason he was once a top prospect.