Peterborough, Ontario native Mike Reeves will have the honour of representing Canada at the World Baseball Classic this month. The 26 year-old catcher was added to Canada’s roster after Langley, BC native and New York Yankees farmhand Kellin Deglan had to bow out due to injury. Reeves and his fellow Canucks will play Colombia on March 9, the Dominican Republic March 11 and the U.S. March 12 in Miami.
Reeves is hoping to build on the momentum of a respectable 2016 season that saw him suit up for the Toronto Blue Jays during its exhibition series against the Boston Red Sox at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Beginning his third stint with the Dunedin Blue Jays, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound backstop batted just .194 in the first half of the season but rebounded in the second half with a .310 batting average. Splitting catching duties with Danny Jansen, Reeves missed some time in June and August 7-day Disabled List stints due to injury but saw some playoff action in the third and deciding game of the Florida State League North Division final against the Tampa Yankees. He had a two-run double but he struck out swinging with the tying run in scoring position to end the game as the Jays lost 9-8 to the Yanks. Still, Reeves ended the regular season with a .365 on-base percentage in 53 games, threw out 28 percent of basestealers and committed just one passed ball.
For the first time in his pro career, Reeves saw some time at the infield corners by playing three games at first base and third base with Dunedin. Though he committed an error at both positions during his limited time there, it appears the Blue Jays would like him to add more tools to the tool kit and become more of a utility player.
Mike Reeves was one of five former Vancouver Canadians to play winter ball in Australia in 2016.
Reeves got to work on his craft some more in the Australian Baseball League with the Canberra Cavalry where he was joined by fellow Canadian and Vancouver Canadians pitcher Andrew Case (2014, 2015). Three other former C’s – outfielder D.J. Davis (2012) and righthanders Josh DeGraaf (2015) and Jackson Lowery (2016) – also headed Down Under with outfielder Josh Almonte to round out the Toronto Blue Jays six-pack of prospects.
The left-handed hitting Reeves was selected to the World Team in the ABL All-Star game . He was particular hot in a three-game stretch that saw him go 8-for-15 to push his batting average to a high of .342. Though he tailed off to a .248 average, he translated his raw power into game power by hitting five home runs in his 109 at-bats, resulting in a slugging percentage of .450. That surpassed this 2016 total with Dunedin by two. Reeves talked about his swing with the Peterborough Examiner last month.
“Changing my swing has been a big factor. Learning how to use my lower half and letting my hands just kind of go along for the ride. That’s been a big thing in hitting home runs, doubles and getting RBIs.”
Reeves had the distinction of being drafted twice by his favourite club. Once in 2009 when he was taken by the Blue Jays in the 42nd round out of St. Peter’s High School in Peterborough before doubling his draft position in 2013 when he was taken in the 21st round out of Florida Gulf Coast University.
He began his pro career in Vancouver with a bang by recording hits in his first 11 games and getting on base in his first 14.He was hitting well over .400 near mid-July and over .300 in early August before winding up with a line with a .275 batting average and an on-base mark of .374.
One highlight of the season came August 20 with Blue Jays legend Joe Carter signing autographs all night long at Nat Bailey Stadium. Using some walk-off magic of his own, Reeves capped a 3-for-5 night with a game winning RBI single in the 11th to cool off the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 2-1 August 20.
Reeves contributed to the C’s third straight Northwest League championship by hitting .353 with a double and three walks while getting on base in all five playoff games against the Everett AquaSox and the Boise Hawks.
The 2014 season saw Reeves struggle with the stick as he began the year with Dunedin before being sent down to Lansing and then to Vancouver, hitting just .213 with a OBP that was 99 points higher. He did improve his caught-stealing rate by nailing 36 percent of would-be basestealers.
In 2015, Reeves’ stock took another tumble with a .206 batting average split between Lansing and Dunedin but he continued to draw his fair share of walks with a .301 OBP.
The arrow started pointing up again in 2016 and Reeves hopes it remains in that direction as he tries to advance to Double-A New Hampshire for the first time in his career. Let’s see if his addition to Canada’s roster at the World Baseball Classic can provide another boost to Reeves’ major league prospects.