Black MLB Players #4: Franmil Reyes
Background + Path to Professional Baseball
Franmil Reyes is a 24-year-old outfielder from Sabana Grande de Palenque, Dominican Republic that plays for the Cleveland Guardians. He originally signed with the San Diego Padres during the 2011 signing period for international free agents, receiving a 700,000 dollar signing bonus. He made a name for himself in the Dominican Prospect League with his quick wrists, a projectable 6'5'’ frame, and respectable actions in right field for a teenager of his size.
Franmil Reyes grew up near the San Diego Padres organization’s baseball academy in the Dominican Republic and was on the radar of the organization from an extremely young age. He met his wife while playing for the Padres Low-A affiliate during an away game against the Cleveland Guardians former Low-A affiliate in the suburbs of Cleveland.
His professional career began during the 2012 MiLB season at the age of 16, playing 67 games for San Diego’s Dominican Summer League affiliate where he put up a .775 OPS with a .267/.360/.416 batting line. The next season, the 17-year-old outfielder split 57 games between the Arizona Rookie League and the Short-Season Northwest League where he went .292/.355/.431, accruing 13 doubles in the process. He put up a 139 wRC+ in the AZL, going .315/.387/.467 in his 186 plate appearances before being rewarded with a promotion. The next two seasons Reyes played with the Padres full season A-Ball affiliate where he struggled, posting an OPS below .750 in both seasons.
Reyes had his eureka moment during the 2016 MiLB season, posting a 112 wRC+ in 130 games with San Diego’s High-A affiliate at 20 years old. He hit 16 home runs and drove in 83 runs, putting up a .278/.340/.452 slash line in the process. The next season he took an even bigger step forward, passing the test of making the leap to Double-A by hitting 25 home runs and driving in 102 RBI during the 2017 MiLB season. After torching the Pacific Coast League to the tune of .324/.428/.614 for San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate, Franmil Reyes made his MLB debut against the Colorado Rockies on May 14, 2018.
Reyes went .280/.340/.498 with 16 home runs in 87 games for San Diego during his rookie season while playing the corner outfield positions, putting up a 129 wRC+ in his first MLB stint. The next season Reyes was a part of a three-team trade that saw him go to the Cleveland Guardians along with two prospects from the Padres, Trevor Bauer traded to the Reds, Taylor Trammel sent to the Padres, and Yasiel Puig and a pitching prospect going to Cleveland. He put up a 111 wRC+ between the two ball clubs, hitting 31 home runs in 150 games played.
He has become a centerpiece of Cleveland’s current position player core due to his youth, productivity, and the potential increase in performance as he steps in his prime years. He posted a 116 wRC+ during the shortened 2020 season, playing in 59 of 60 games. He was injured during the 2021 season, suffering an oblique strain, but still played in 115 games where he maintained his above-average performance with the bat by hitting 30 home runs and garnering 85 RBI.
Franmil Reyes is 6'5'’, weighs 275 pounds, and bats and throws right-handed. He is built like an NFL lineman without all the bulk weight needed to play in the NFL’s trenches, but still has big thighs and big arms. Is not immobile, but is not necessarily athletic either.
Reyes has a right-handed swing with a natural loft and a lot of length to it geared for spraying fly balls to all fields. He starts with his hands perpendicular to his ear in an upright, even stance before starting his swing with a decent leg lift before stepping into his swing and rotating his hips. He waggles the bat and drops his hands as he gets them into position to bring the bat around. He has a lot of noise in his mechanics in addition to being a big man with long arms and a lot of mass to get moving. Despite this, he has never posted an alarmingly high strikeout rate for someone with his hitting profile and finds a way to get the bat head out in front consistently.
Reyes has an all-fields approach that focuses on spraying hard contact based on pitch location. A majority of the balls he puts in play are groundballs but still posts sustainable BABIPs due to his top-of-the-scale average exit velocities. Reyes barrels up pitches at a top-tier rate with the caveat being that he swings and misses at a high rate. He possesses top-of-the-scale raw power and is consistently able to reach it in games on a per rate basis with the potential for more.
In terms of working the strike zone, he is mediocre at drawing walks but will still post a percentage of around 8% on a year-by-year basis. He struggles with chasing secondary pitches on the edge of the zone and expanding the zone for pitchers trying to chase that one fastball to hit. The length of his swing and his levers is the Achilles heel in his ability to hit. Due to his large size and slow foot speed, Reyes is one of the least productive baserunners in the game statistically. It does not matter, as his primary job is to drive in runs and not score them. He is going to be a station-to-station guy for his entire career. Defensively he is below average in the outfield, watching a few games of him in San Diego will explain why Cleveland made him DH.