The Alex Reyes rehab tour moved from Florida to Illinois this week, but the results mostly stayed the same -- heavy on the strikeouts and zero fun for the opposing hitters.
The top-ranked St. Louis prospect struck out 12 hitters through five scoreless innings Monday for Class A Peoria, allowing one hit and walking a pair in the Chiefs' 5-2 victory over the LumberKings at Dozer Park.
"With the stuff that he has, it's not surprising that he had an outing like he did," Peoria manager Chris Swauger said. "Obviously, that's why everybody's so excited about him all around baseball. What we were really looking for was him to just come out of it, get to his pitch count and be healthy with everything he was doing. That was obviously goal No. 1, and that was accomplished. For him to have some success, it's exciting, but not surprising."
Making his second start since undergoing Tommy John surgery in February 2017, Reyes was unhittable, save for a double off the bat of Johnny Adams with one out in the second inning. That came after MLB.com's No. 17 overall prospect retired the first four hitters he faced, striking out the side in the first.
Video: Reyes racks up 12th strikeout for Peoria
Following the double -- the only time Clinton got the ball out of the infield against him -- Reyes set down the next seven hitters, mixing in five strikeouts along the way. A two-out walk issued to Jack Larsen in the fourth marked the right-hander's first free pass of the night, but he came back to strike out Adams for his third whiff of the inning.
The 23-year-old mirrored his fourth-inning performance in the fifth, once again striking out the first two batters of the frame -- Ryan Costello and Eugene Helder -- before allowing another two-out walk, this time to Ryan Scott. But Reyes got Billy Cooke to watch a called strike three go by for his 12th strikeout of the game.
Gameday box score
Being able to mix in his offspeed pitches off the fastball led to the strong showing, Swauger said.
"I think that's why he was so dominant. He wasn't just out there throwing fastballs," the manager said. "Obviously, that's a weapon for him. But his curveball and his changeup are massive assets for him, especially [since] he was throwing them for strikes.
"It's premium stuff from a guy that's got the right mentality and the right makeup to make it tick up more than it already is."
The 2012 undrafted signee came into the night with the goal of throwing 75 to 85 pitches and settled on the sweet spot of 80, throwing 51 for strikes, for his final tally. The outing came on the heels of his May 9 start for Class A Advanced Palm Beach in which he scattered four hits and a walk while striking out six over 3 1/3 scoreless innings.
Reyes appeared in 12 games (five starts) for the parent club in 2016, amassing a 4-1 record and a 1.57 ERA with 52 strikeouts over 46 innings.
Swauger isn't clued into what the next step will be for Reyes, but he said that by the looks of it, the New Jersey native doesn't have much longer to go before climbing a Major League mound again.
"I don't have a ton of experience around big league guys, but I would say that the stuff that he showed tonight would be able to get outs at any level," the skipper said. " He's as good as anybody I've seen pitching in 10 years. I've spent all of them in the Minor Leagues, but that was really good. I've spent them all at lower levels, but that was as good -- if not better -- than anybody I've ever seen."
Reyes' off-field contributions, such as hanging out in the dugout after his start to talk with Chiefs players and support the team, left a significant impact in Peoria, even if he does not make another rehab start there.
"Alex is a true professional," Swauger said. "[He] conducted himself unbelievably, assimilated into our clubhouse as if he was just one of the guys on the team. ... It's just a great overall experience for our team, especially our young guys, first of all, to see what a big league player looks at and how he goes about his business.
"I think that's the great thing about our organization, top to bottom, is we're bringing up not only good players, but good people."
Leading the offense for the Chiefs, catcher Julio Rodriguez deposited a pair of solo homers and added a double.
"I think it was just a really good experience for [Rodriguez]," Swauger said. "I know he was really excited to catch Alex. The two homers were just icing on the cake."