The news of the St. Louis Cardinals top prospect Alex Reyes missing the whole season due to a UCL tear was shocking and left a hole in the pitching rotation.
There seemed to be a lot of hype about the first full season of Alex Reyes with the St. Louis Cardinals. With good reason, he showed great promise in his short Major League stint last season, along with being the number six prospect according to the original release of MLB Pipelines top 100 prospects. Since the injury news, he has dropped to 14.
Reyes was likely to be the number five starter to fill out the back end of the rotation. Now he is gone for the year, there will be some decisions to make about who to take over the number five spot. It was a spot that wasn’t outright given to Reyes, but he was certainly the favorite to take it over.
This injury also means that fans won’t get to see how Reyes fares against some of the best talent in the world. He was set to compete with fellow pitcher Carlos Martinez on the Dominican Republic team at the World Baseball Classic.
While there are still options to sign off of the Free Agent market, it seems more likely General Manager John Mozeliak will look internally to fill the void. Since Reyes was projected to be the number 5 starter, there should be plenty of players that can be signed who will be serviceable. There are, surprisingly, quite a few options to consider moving forward into the season.
When looking internally there will be a question of where to look. Several relievers have starting experience throughout the minors but the starters in the minor can’t be forgotten either. It will really come down to who can perform when given the opportunity. But without question there will be an opportunity for a player who previously did not have one.
The timing of the news means two things. First, the Cardinals can expect to have Reyes back ready to go next season, assuming the Tommy John surgery goes well. Plenty of players have come back and been just as good as before. But some lose there effectiveness, such as former Cardinals closer Jason Motte.
The second thing is that Spring Training games have become a showcase for those vying for that fifth starter spot. The competition will expand from two guys, Reyes and Michael Wacha, to several possible players. Some more likely options than others.
Each of the players mentioned will be graded on a scale of high, medium, or low likelihood of being a fifth starter at some point throughout the season. So who will be the guys in competition? The options are plentiful and while the answer may seem obvious, Spring Training will put a them under a microscope.