ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals still must wait until May 28 to activate Alex Reyes from the disabled list. But the club's No.1 prospect sure looks ready now.
Reyes looked dominant once again in his third rehab start, striking out 13 across 7 2/3 shutout innings for Double-A Springfield on Saturday. Fifteen months removed from Tommy John surgery, Reyes has yet to allow a run across three rehab starts. He's struck out 31 batters in 16 innings.
MILB Video - Title: Reyes' 13th K - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=2062655883
"It's exciting to go out there and kind of forget about how everything is feeling and competing," Reyes said this week at Busch Stadium, where he has conducted his mid-start work for most of the month.
The 23-year-old Reyes has appeared at different affiliates during his rehab, steadily increasing his workload in each start. He threw 3 1/3 innings at Class A Advanced Palm Beach, then tossed five innings at Class A Peoria and 7 2/3 innings at Springfield, where Reyes' pitch count reached 93. His next and final rehab start is scheduled for Thursday at Triple-A Memphis. He'll be eligible to return from the DL four days after that.
In what capacity remains to be seen, though his rehab workload certainly hints at Reyes, who is the No. 17 prospect overall in baseball, factoring into the big league rotation. John Gant is currently filling Carlos Martinez's spot, and the club doesn't anticipate Martinez returning from a strained lat until at least the end of the month, or possibly later. Gant likely wouldn't block Reyes.
Even with Martinez healthy, Reyes' arrival would shake up a back end of the rotation that currently features Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty. The odd man out there could contribute in the bullpen, where the club is scrambling to reconfigure its late-inning picture in light of Greg Holland's struggles. Reyes appeared in both roles in his 12-game MLB cameo as a rookie in 2016, starting five games and relieving in seven others. He tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow the following spring.
"I never had doubt in myself," Reyes said this week. "I always told myself I'd be able to get back to where I was."