SAN DIEGO (AP) - Outfielder Franmil Reyes was hitting home runs in Triple-A so hard and so often that the San Diego Padres had no choice but to bring him up to make his major league debut.
Reyes, who isn’t even listed among the rebuilding Padres’ top 30 prospects, leads all of professional baseball in homers after hitting 14 with Triple-A El Paso.
“A smart organization listens to what the bats are telling you, and his bat was screaming at us from El Paso,” said manager Andy Green, who had the 22-year-old Reyes batting sixth and playing right field against the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.
The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Reyes hit eight homers in a five-game stretch earlier this month.
“I’m a big guy. You guys will see a lot of homers, hopefully,” said Reyes, who’s from the Dominican Republic.
Reyes’ mother, Dominga Uribe, arrived from New York, where she’s lived the last eight years, just in time to see him hit monster home runs in batting practice. When Reyes saw his mother, he walked over and gave her a long hug.
“It’s an incredible feeling having my mother here,” Reyes said. “It helps make the dream come true. I’m really, really happy she is here. My mom is my whole life.”
Reyes forced his way to the big leagues with his power. His timing is good, too, because outfielders Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe are on the disabled list.
Reyes said the only thing he can control is his play. “It was just at the right time,” he said.
“It’s the kind of power that’s definitely going to play in the big leagues,” Green said. “It’s not, ‘Hey, will he have enough to hit it out of Petco Park just because it went out in El Paso?’ He’s kind of like Hunter Renfroe in that regard. The balls he hits, he hits and you know he hit. It’s nice to have that dynamic in the lineup.”
Reyes “is a heck of an intriguing young player,” general partner Peter Seidler said. “I think it’s just one of the cool things about baseball, when a kid shows this kind of power.”
Seidler said he hadn’t heard Reyes’ name until last week, “and I’m as intrigued with our prospects as anybody. … This guy was not a front-burner guy, and all of a sudden he’s forced us to bring him up.”
Green said Reyes improved his plate discipline and defense since last season, when he hit 25 homers and drove in 102 runs at Double-A San Antonio, leading all Padres minor leaguers.
“Everybody said the first day will be a little bit of pressure, but it’s something that I say every time, baseball is same baseball everywhere,” Reyes said. “We just have to focus on the game and you will have success.”
Reyes and Franchy Cordero, who’s also from the Dominican Republic, both signed with the Padres as free agents on Nov. 2, 2011.
Cordero, 23, made his big league debut on May 27, 2017. He has six homers for the Padres this year.
“Franchy’s been an example for me. Franchy’s a guy to follow,” Reyes said.
The two played together in the minors and spoke about one day playing together in the Padres’ outfield.
“Oh yes, hell yes,” Reyes said.
San Diego optioned second baseman Carlos Asuaje to Triple-A. Asuaje had been among the first wave of young players to come up late in the 2016 season.
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