St. Louis Cardinals Pitching Prospect Alex Reyes Suspended 50 Games for Drug Violation


The St. Louis Cardinals organization was hit with a bit of a black mark on Monday, as it was announced that the organization’s top prospect, righthanded pitcher Alex Reyes, has been suspended for the first 50 games of the 2016 season due to multiple positive tests for marijuana, a violation of Major League Baseball’s substance abuse policy. Reyes is ranked as the Cardinals’ best prospect and the 16th-best prospect in the majors by MLB Pipeline. The 21-year-old Reyes quickly issued a letter of apology to fans on Twitter, expressing regret for his decisions.

Reyes, who was born and raised in New Jersey but relocated to the Dominican Republic in December 2011 to evade the MLB Draft, had been on a tear during the 2015 season, so this is a rather significant setback. Over 13 starts for the High-A Palm Beach Cardinals, Reyes had a 2.26 ERA, a .226 opponent batting average, and a WHIP of 1.26. After being promoted to Double-A Springfield in late July, Reyes had a 3.12 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP, and a dominant .174 opponent batting average in eight starts. While he showed a need to improve his control, the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder showcased spectacular velocity and exceeded fastball speeds of triple digits on multiple occasions.

Following the conclusion of his minor-league schedule, Reyes was assigned to the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League, MLB’s premier offseason developmental league. He allowed just one run while giving up nine hits, walking seven, and striking out 12 in his first three starts for the Saguaros, which spanned a total of 11.2 innings. His fourth start was less impressive, as he gave up five earned runs on five hits and three walks in 3.1 innings. After a brilliant performance in the AFL, Reyes was surprisingly pulled out of the league last week and scratched from the “Fall Stars” game, which took place this past Saturday. Now we know why that decision was made.

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Reyes’s suspension makes the Cardinals’ recent decision to give starting pitcher John Lackey a $15.8 million-dollar qualifying offer look a whole lot smarter than it already did. Though Reyes will be able to attend spring training with the Cardinals and make an impression on the maj0r-league front office and coaching staff, he’ll be out of action for the season’s first two months and will be getting into the swing of things in early June rather than early April. Whereas before the suspension, Reyes looked like a solid candidate to ascend to the majors after a few months at Triple-A Memphis, his best bet now is probably to hope for a call-up next September.

With Reyes less likely to be a big-league contributor in 2016, the Cardinals will still have lefthanders Tim Cooney, Marco Gonzales, and Tyler Lyons available as depth options, as well as the starter from the 2015 rotation who ends up being the odd man out if Lackey accepts the qualifying offer. That’s better-than-usual starting depth for a major-league team heading into an offseason, though Lyons and Gonzales may be transitioned into relief roles for 2016, meaning that they could end up being less viable rotation candidates.

Next: Cardinals Add OF Anthony Garcia to 40-Man Roster