Baseball’s next top slugger: Franmil Reyes

Throughout the early part of this season, the Padres have gotten lots of attention for their young talent. SP Chris Paddack and SS Fernando Tatis Jr., who both made the Opening Day roster without playing a single game in Triple-A, have gained baseball’s attention as they embark on what project to be be long and successful careers. This has been highly warranted, as both have been very impressive. Paddack owns a 1.99 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 9.73 K/9 through eight starts, while Tatis Jr. sports a .300 batting average with 6 HR, a .910 OPS and 143 wRC+ over his first 100 at-bats.

San Diego has another young star in the making who deserves some recognition: Franmil Reyes. Reyes, the 23-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic, has displayed some serious pop over his first 129 career games and is turning into one of the top young power hitters in the major leagues. He played in 87 games in his debut season last year and tallied a .280 average with 16 HR, 31 RBI, .360 wOBA, .218 ISO and 129 wRC+. Reyes posted an impressive 44.2% hard contact rate, and hit just 14.9% of balls softly.

As impressive as those numbers are, especially for a rookie in such a short amount of time, they were brought down by a slow start to the season before turning things around in the final two months of the campaign. After hitting just .222 with 6 HR, 14 RBI and a 39.0 K% over 33 games in the first half, Reyes slugged his way to a .315 average, 10 homers, 23 runs driven in, .394 wOBA, .222 ISO and 152 wRC+ in 53 games after the All-Star break. He also managed to lower his gruesome 39.0% strikeout rate from the first half to 21.7% in the second while maintaining an impressive hard contact rate of 43.9%.

If there was one flaw in Franmil Reyes’ success, besides a partially elevated strikeout rate, it was that he carried a high .345 BABIP, suggesting he was a bit on the luckier end. While this was warranted to an extent by his above-average 44.2% hard contact clip, Reyes was projected my most to hit around .250 with 20+ homers. So far in 2019 though, he’s defying those odds, and has posted a stronger batting average than those projections even while finding himself on the unluckier side so far this year. Across his first 42 games as San Diego’s everyday right fielder, Reyes has batted .273 with 12 HR, 23 RBI, .366 wOBA, .318 ISO and a 132 wRC+. His hard contact rate and BABIP suggest his numbers should be even higher: Reyes is currently riding a ridiculous hard contact rate of 51.0% with just a .273 BABIP. A hard contact rate of 35-40% is pretty solid; a 51.0% clip is outstanding.

These numbers for Reyes are the story of minor league success turning into major league success, which often can be very difficult to do. Reyes earned his call-up in 2018 after ripping the cover off the ball in Triple-A over the first couple months of the season with a .324 average and 16 HR, 52 RBI, .443 wOBA, .614 SLG, .290 ISO and 168 wRC+ in 58 games. The numbers were off the charts, and have translated well to more strong numbers in the big leagues for Reyes.

Franmil Reyes, who doesn’t enter arbitration until 2022 and is under San Diego’s control through the 2025 season, will play a big role in the success that the Padres hope and expect for in the near future. With a solidified star in Manny Machado, and more potential stars to come in Franmil Reyes, Chris Paddack, Fernando Tatis Jr., and many other prospects, San Diego could be in for a fun ride in the years to come.

Photo Source: Getty Images

Statistics as of May 15, 2019

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