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Reyes tosses bullpen to Minor Leaguers

Right-hander increases intensity on 15-pitch workload
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

JUPITER, Fla. -- Alex Reyes took a step forward in his rehab from Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, completing a 15-pitch bullpen session on the back fields of the Cardinals' Roger Dean Stadium complex.

The 23-year old, ranked No. 1 in the organization by MLB Pipeline, threw three sets of five pitches to Minor League hitters J.B. Woodman, Ramon Urias and Angel Moreno as bullpen coach Bryan Eversgerd looked on.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Alex Reyes took a step forward in his rehab from Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, completing a 15-pitch bullpen session on the back fields of the Cardinals' Roger Dean Stadium complex.

The 23-year old, ranked No. 1 in the organization by MLB Pipeline, threw three sets of five pitches to Minor League hitters J.B. Woodman, Ramon Urias and Angel Moreno as bullpen coach Bryan Eversgerd looked on.

The session marked an increase in intensity in the workload for Reyes, who'd been building up strength in bullpen sessions since January.

Though Reyes recently began incorporating breaking balls into his bullpen sessions, he threw only fastballs and changeups on Wednesday.

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Earlier this month marked the one-year anniversary of Reyes' surgery, which repaired a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The Cards hope he can return to the Majors by May 1.

In what role remains to be seen. The Cardinals still project Reyes as a future top-of-the-rotation arm, and as a possible X-factor in their rotation as early as this season. But they understand his workload will need to be monitored coming off surgery, especially at first. It doesn't take much imagination to see Reyes' high-octane repertoire -- a high-90s fastball, wipeout curve and improving changeup -- playing well in the late innings, where the Cards have many options but few answers.

Reyes pitched out of both the rotation and the bullpen during his sensational 12-game debut in late 2016, when the righty went 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA over five starts. He was nearly unhittable as a reliever, posting a 0.52 ERA in 17 1/3 innings pitched and 11.9 strikeouts per nine. Reyes injured his elbow late the following winter, and missed the entire 2017 season.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.

St. Louis Cardinals, Alex Reyes