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Franmil shows elite power potential vs. Braves

Young slugger hits two homers, double; Mejia's throw helps clinch win
@AJCassavell
May 1, 2019

ATLANTA -- Franmil Reyes has a solution for some of the tough luck he ran into earlier this season. Just hit dingers. No one’s going to catch those. For the second straight Tuesday night, the Padres' right fielder tallied a two-homer game, this time in a 4-3 victory over the

ATLANTA -- Franmil Reyes has a solution for some of the tough luck he ran into earlier this season.

Just hit dingers. No one’s going to catch those.

For the second straight Tuesday night, the Padres' right fielder tallied a two-homer game, this time in a 4-3 victory over the Braves in Atlanta. Reyes crushed a solo home run to left field in the first inning and an opposite-field blast to right in the sixth. Both gave San Diego a lead, and rookie right-hander Chris Paddack's six frames made it hold up.

Reyes’ power is prodigious, but even by his lofty standards Tuesday was impressive. During batting practice, he demolished a couple baseballs off the off the brick concessions building just beyond the left-field seats at SunTrust Park. That’s when manager Andy Green had an inkling Reyes might be in for a big night.

“When he's on, it's special,” Green said. “... We got on his back, rode the big guy for today.”

“I really needed a night like that,” Reyes said, breaking into a wide grin.

Reyes is still only 23. He’s been in the big leagues for less than a year, and he’s already tallied 24 homers and an .818 OPS. Those numbers come in just 117 games, and they include Reyes’ dreadful start last season, during which he was sent down twice before his breakout.

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Reyes’ power potential is off the charts. Soon enough, the rest of the league will take notice. He hits the ball as hard as anyone, and he’s got the plate approach to match it. A hulking 6-foot-5, 275-pounder, Reyes seemingly has all the tools to develop into one of the sport’s premier sluggers.

“He's got a ways to go to put himself in that category,” Green said. “But keep doing it, and yeah, he has what it takes. ... I'd love, by the end of the year, for everybody to be talking about how many home runs he's hit. That'd be good for all of us.”

It’s not just the homers either -- however majestic they look when he hits them. Reyes is a savvy hitter. He doubled home a third-inning run after a tense eight-pitch battle with Julio Teheran. The Braves' right-hander threw a 3-2 fastball a couple inches off the outside corner, and Reyes swatted it into the right-field corner.

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"He was the only guy who changed the game,” said Teheran, who allowed both home runs to Reyes and a solo homer to Eric Hosmer. “I think I made only one mistake.”

These types of big nights are a long time coming for Reyes, who also went deep twice against Seattle at Petco Park. His name appears all over the Statcast leaderboards. Reyes entered play Tuesday ranked sixth in the Majors with a 94.7 mph average exit velocity and ninth with a .650 expected slugging percentage.

His early-season numbers didn’t truly reflect his quality performance at the plate. But if Reyes keeps hitting the ball 103 mph out of the yard -- as he did to both fields on Tuesday -- he won’t need to worry about that for much longer.

Mejia’s missile
Padres catcher Francisco Mejía has struggled at the plate this season. But he’s still doing ridiculous things with his throwing arm from behind it.

Mejia’s arm might have clinched Tuesday’s game. The Padres led by one in the ninth inning when Brian McCann led off with a single. An out later, pinch-runner Charlie Culberson broke for second -- and got a decent jump, too.

He still had no chance.

Mejia, who boasts arguably the strongest throwing arm in the sport, put the ball right on the money.

“I was ready for it,” Mejia said. “I was expecting him to go at some point. … I like it. It gives me a chance to show off what I'm best at, which is throwing the baseball.”

Two pitches later, Kirby Yates struck out Tyler Flowers to seal his Major League-leading 14th save. Yates has been perfect in save opportunities this season, and he got some help from his rookie catcher on Tuesday.

“Whenever somebody runs, we're smiling from the dugout, because we want to watch him throw,” Green said. “Even in the ninth inning.”

Paddack power
It’s only been six starts, but Paddack’s dominance is already becoming somewhat routine. He worked six innings of two-run ball Tuesday night, both runs scoring after he and Mejia got crossed up, resulting in a second-inning balk.

That put runners on second and third, before Matt Joyce knocked a shift-beating single on an 0-2 fastball. It was Paddack’s only glaring mistake.

“That’s the one pitch I wish I could take back tonight,” Paddack said.

Paddack finished his prior start by retiring 19 straight hitters. He put away four straight to start the game Tuesday. In doing so, he became the first Padres rookie to retire 23 straight since Bob Shirley did so in 1977.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.