We’re down to 87 days in our countdown to San Diego Padres Opening Day 2019.
One of the more entertaining storylines of the 2018 San Diego Padres season was, without a doubt, the emergence of Franmil Reyes. The powerful slugger lumbered his way into the hearts of many Padres fans last season, appearing in 87 games during his rookie season. On this New Year’s Eve day, we celebrate our countdown to Padres Opening Day, now 87 days away, by taking a quick look at the “Franimal” and his exciting rookie debut.
I wasn’t overly excited about Reyes when he was originally called up to the major leagues on May 14th. Sure, he was destroying baseballs in Triple-A with the El Paso Chihuahuas, however, his high strikeout rate and 6’5″ and 275-pound frame didn’t exactly bring about excitement when thinking about his defensive capabilities in the outfield at Petco Park.
His first two months of professional ball didn’t change the lack of excitement. Reyes hit .184 across 14 games in May and then .271 over the course of June. In just 92 at-bats, Reyes struck out 39 times and drew only four walks in the process. The trend continued in the month of July and Reyes was sent back to El Paso to refine his game.
The determination of Reyes to return to the big leagues and remain in the pro ranks seemed to do a number on his production once he was recalled in August. His post-All-Star game numbers included a .315/.383/.537 slash line and 10 home runs. He reached base in 20 of his 25 games played in September (nine of which were multi-hit performances) and showed solid growth with his patience at the plate, recording a 10% walk rate and 22% strikeout rate during the second half of the season. I quickly became excited about the future of Reyes.
The San Diego Padres had a successful, but short, winter experience.
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Reyes continued his hot finish to the 2018 season in the Dominican Republic, teaming up with Franchy Cordero for the Leones del Escogido in the Dominican winter league. In his 13 games of action, Reyes hit .444 with a 1.199 OPS, three home runs and an 11/6 K/BB ratio in 45 at-bats.
Unfortunately, his winter league experience ended after requiring surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He is expected to be ready to go by spring training.
One of the bigger questions facing Franmil Reyes is how will adjust to National League pitchers adjusting to him? If he can continue to show development in pitch selection and successfully hit right-handed pitching, Reyes should have a productive 2019.
A Statcast darling, Reyes averaged a 92.3 mph exit velocity on batted balls, the 14th hardest average in baseball (among players with at least 150 batted balls) and his 477-foot moonshot off Jon Lester on August 5th was the 5th-longest home run hit in 2018.
Hopefully, we get more than 87 games from Reyes in 2019, but until then, we’re 87 days away from San Diego Padres Opening Day baseball. Be safe this New Year’s Eve and see you all in 2019!