Exhibiting a tough as nails work-ethic, and remarkable range this season, Raul Reyes has made amazing catches in center field seem commonplace. Showing plus speed and a great arm as well, Reyes works harder on defense than some big leaguers and looks like he could patrol the outfield in Shea stadium right now if he wanted to.
“Ever since I was little, I always played good defense. I’ve always worked very hard at being a good outfielder and helping my team that way. This year, I’ve worked everyday in practice, especially during batting practice. I try to read everything from groundballs hit to the infield to the fly balls hit to my teammates in the outfield,” said Reyes. “The coaches have helped me a lot this season too, they’re always talking to me and helping me get better.”
With Reyes’ speed, there are not many balls hit to center field that he can not get to. If that was not enough, Reyes has the stamina and determination of a long distance runner, making any ball hit in the Keyspan Park outfield within his reach.
“I always run my hardest when a ball is hit towards me,” said Reyes. “I try and read where I think the ball is going to go and just keep my legs moving. That’s my goal.”
Loving what he sees from his center fielder, Cyclones manager Edgar Alfonzo believes that Reyes’ play on defense makes a huge difference for his young pitching staff and has been a huge factor in the team’s success.
“He works very hard on defense and his range is outstanding,” said Alfonzo. “He makes really tough plays seem routine at times and runs down every ball hit in his area.”
The Cyclones pitching staff is equally as happy that Reyes is patrolling the spacious outfield at Keyspan.
“He does his job really well,” Cyclones pitcher Dylan Owen said. “There have been a couple of balls this year I didn’t think he was going to get to, but he always gets there and makes the play.”
While Reyes is easily the best defensive player on the Cyclones, his play on offense has been sporadic. In the midst of a 4-for-35 slump over the past week and a half, Reyes’ batting average has dipped to a mediocre .229. He has struck out 56 times in 43 games as well, despite leading the team with six homers, Reyes has shown that his power comes with the price of patience. Nevertheless, Alfonzo likes what he sees from the 20-year old at the plate and feels that as the season goes on, his young center fielder’s batting average is sure to go up.
“He’s still ironing the kinks out of swing,” said Alfonzo. “He was hurt through most of extended spring training, so he’s just starting to get comfortable. Once he does, you’re going to see a really good hitter at the plate.”
Hitting .273 last season with Kingsport, Reyes knows that it is only a matter of time until his batting average escapes the vicinity of the Mendoza line and he starts getting on base with more regularity. Stealing eight bases this year as well, Reyes could benefit from changing his approach at the plate and becoming more of a contact hitter.
However, he has not changed his swing since arriving in Brooklyn and believes that he is getting a great education from Alfonzo that will eventually make him a better hitter that can produce solid power numbers.
“I haven’t had to change my swing since I got here,” said Reyes. “Fonzie [Cyclones manager Edgar Alfonzo], has helped me learn to try and take the ball opposite field more and often take advantage of the high fastball by getting out in front more. They’ve also helped me take the ball up the middle more often. I think that because of that, I’m a better hitter than I was before.”
However, despite his trials and tribulations at the plate this season, Reyes has been an integral part of the Cyclones this season and loves playing at Keyspan Park. That he feels will be a driving force in whatever success he is to have the rest of this season.
“I like this team a lot,” said Reyes. “This is the best team I’ve ever played on. I love playing in front of these fans and hearing them cheer. I think we can make the playoffs. We’re all winners and we all work hard.”