It wasn't perfect, but Alex Reyes' season debut provided plenty of positive signs.
The Cardinals' top prospect allowed two hits and three walks while striking out eight over four scoreless innings in his return from a 50-game suspension on Sunday as Triple-A Memphis topped Fresno, 8-1, at AutoZone Park.
Reyes worked with runners on base in three of his four frames, loading the bases in the second before striking out Nolan Fontana and Danny Worth. MLB.com's No. 11 overall prospect threw 48 of 85 pitches for strikes.
"It was tough to get in a rhythm today," Reyes told MLB.com. "I felt like I didn't throw enough strikes, but my fastball was explosive and I threw some pretty good changeups. I couldn't really find a good rhythm with my breaking ball, but I'll work on it during my next start and it should come back."
Reyes received his suspension in November after testing positive for marijuana and later apologized publicly for what he called "a huge mistake." The right-hander said he used the situation as a learning opportunity, both for himself and his teammates, while he spent the first six weeks of the season at extended spring training.
"I kind of told them what I went through and how this hurt my family so much and how I don't want anybody else to make that mistake," Reyes said. "It was just such a tough time for me, and being able to let these guys know what I went through, hopefully it will change some of their mindsets and some of their aspects of what they think about.
"I'm not as bad of a person as people think. I made a really stupid mistake and I own up to that. I just learned that those mistakes will come back to bite you and you have to be responsible."
The right-hander compiled a 2.49 ERA and 151 strikeouts a season ago while making 22 starts for Class A Advanced Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield. Sunday's outing was his first at the Triple-A level, and left St. Louis manager Mike Matheny anxious to see where the New Jersey native goes from here.
"[I'm] anxious to watch because his stuff has looked really good," Matheny told MLB.com. "All the development people have really liked where he is. We really like where he is. His stuff is maturing, as well as him individually."
Ryan Sherriff (2-0) relieved Reyes and struck out four over two one frames. Juan Gonzalez gave up two hits and fanned one over the final two innings to pick up his second save.
Cardinals No. 21 prospect Patrick Wisdom went 3-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. Jonathan Rodriguez also had three hits, including a solo homer, and drove in four runs for the Redbirds.
Grizzlies starter Mike Hauschild (3-5) surrendered three runs on six hits and a walk with five strikeouts over six innings.
Second-ranked Astros prospect A.J. Reed singled and walked in his return from a brief stint on the disabled list for Fresno.
Alex Kraft is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and chat with him on Twitter @Alex_Kraft21.