Vancouver Canadians lefthander Marcus Reyes at the C’s 2018 Media Day.
2017-2018 Vancouver Canadians pitcher Marcus Reyes makes his mark in the latest episode of C’s Chat. The 5-foot-10 lefthander is embarking on his second season in the Toronto Blue Jays system after being drafted in the 38th round of the 2017 draft from San Diego State University.
Reyes spent four seasons with the Aztecs and spent the majority of his time as a reliever, save for his sophomore season in which he went 7-3 with a 4.20 earned average when he made 13 starts. After a tough junior season in which he won just once and had an ERA over six, Reyes went 4-2 with a 2.90 ERA in his senior campaign.
Reyes says he was playing a video game at the time of the draft.
“I was playing guitar hero with my buddy, one of my best friends and I was actually cooking eggs and I was about to start a song and we were awesome at guitar hero. My buddy was like, ‘Wait! Marcus! Did you see what just happened?’ ‘What?’ He was like, ‘You just got drafted!’ I was like, ‘No way!’ I look at my phone. It started blowing up and getting notifications so it was really cool. I was just casually hanging out with my friend, just not expecting it at the time. Yeah, it was awesome.”
Reyes’ professional debut came June 28 in the Gulf Coast League in which he struck out four batters over two innings of one-hit ball. The Denville, New Jersey native was sent up to Bluefield July 2 and that was the start of an 11-appearance streak in which he did not give up any runs. Among that string of games was his first professional win July 13 against Greeneville that saw him strike out six batters over three shutout frames to offset a couple of hits. His last three appearances with Bluefield saw him surrender multiple runs but his body of work earned him another promotion to Vancouver in late August.
Marcus Reyes earned his first victory in a Vancouver uniform in Boise July 12, 2018.
Reyes made his C’s debut at Nat Bailey Stadium by earning a hold during an August 22 victory against the Everett AquaSox. He said it was quite the change from pitching in the Appalachian League.
“Coming up from Bluefield where maybe we got 100 fans a game and then my first outing here was a packed night and I was just overwhelmed by all the fans here but it was amazing. It was an awesome feeling.”
He pitched three innings of one-run ball against the Boise Hawks August 27 before tossing a scoreless frame in Tri-City September 1. Reyes did pitch once in the playoffs as he recorded two-thirds of a scoreless inning with just one hit allowed in Game 2 of the Northwest League Final September 10. He got to celebrate the C’s clinching of the league title two nights later when he came racing in from the bullpen to join the dogpile.
“We were in the bullpen and we were waiting for it, we were just like ‘Will is going to strike this guy out right here and then we all looked at each other. I kind of missed it honestly because I was like, ‘We’re going, guys. We’re going.’ Will struck him out and it was just the fastest sprint ever. The fastest sprint ever in my life. Just booked it out there. Joe (DiBenedetto) hopped the fence and then we got to the top of the dogpile which is just awesome so we didn’t get crushed but yeah, it was amazing. An amazing feeling.”
Marcus Reyes posted a 1.80 earned run average in five innings with the C’s in 2017.
The 23 year-old Reyes says being back in Vancouver brought back a lot of great memories of 2017 and he would love nothing more to experience them again in 2018.
“I remember the culture that was here. Really awesome culture, a winning culture and obviously winning the championship, that was amazing, Taking the Northwest League championship home.
Let’s win it again. Obviously we’re the defending the champs. A new team this year but that feeling at the end of the year last year was too memorable and hopefully we can repeat it this year.”
Reyes was also happy to get his championship ring at the tail end of spring training.
“The ring ceremony was good, obviously getting anointed by everyone. The rings were beautiful, huge rocks, it was awesome, amazing.”
Reyes felt he learned a couple of lessons about being a professional last year.
“Definitely appreciate where you live. Don’t take things for granted. Baseball-wise, learn how to pitch more to the hitter. That’s what I took a lot from Bluefield and then came up here and learned a lot from Cy (pitching coach Jim Czajkowski).
Pitching Style & Repertoire
As far as the type of pitcher he is, Reyes gave this scouting report on himself.
“Definitely a mixed pitcher kind of guy. Fill the zone. I’m not like a big strikeout or power pitcher but I work quick and fill up the zone. Just get quick outs.
I have a four-seamer, a two-seamer/sinker variation, a changeup, a cutter and a slider.”
Reyes added he spent a lot of time trying to refine his slider heading into the season.
“My slider for sure. I learned a new grip this year and that was my main emphasis during extended.”
Though Reyes did get a brief introduction to pitching in Dunedin with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays, he said pitching during extended spring training was quite the challenge.
“You learn a lot about yourself because it’s obviously not in full competition mode yet. It was brutal, waking up everyday around 6:30, coming to the field. It’s already blazing hot with the humidity and then as the day drags on but it’s nice to get out here. Now we have a later time, beautiful weather but it’s a real grind, extended is.”
Reyes’ first year in college was the last for San Diego State University coach and San Diego Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn after he died of cancer at the age of 54. Reyes said Gwynn’s philosophy for the Aztecs program was simple.
“Just more carry on the legacy. Just hard work and good teammates and stuff like that. That’s what coach Gwynn kind of pounded into us when it was my first year there before his passing.”
Reyes was proud to see nine Aztecs get drafted by major league clubs over the last two seasons. He is hoping he will get to face one of his former teammates this season in the Northwest League.
“Obviously seeing all my friends get drafted was awesome. I was so proud of them. I knew they were going but it was still cool to see it because I was on the other end of that last year. Dean Nevarez was drafted by the Mariners. Hopefully I’ll see him (with Everett). That would awesome.”
Reyes says there were two coaches who were instrumental in helping him reach pro ball.
“I can name two people. My first travel ball coach Gordon Sanchez taught me a lot, just how to be a pitcher. When I went to high school, my high school pitching coach (in Rancho Buena Vista HS, California) Dominic Johnson. He really taught me everything that I kind of do nowadays.
Obviously coming to the Blue Jays last year, Cy and Tony (Bluefield pitching coach Antonio Caceras) are huge influences on me just learning how to be a pro pitcher. But definitely Gordon Sanchez and Dominic Johnson (helped me) along the way to get to where I am now.”
After wearing #36 for Vancouver last year, Marcus Reyes is wearing #29 this season, the same number he wore with San Diego State University.
One thing pitchers look to do is establish a routine when they prepare to pitch, something that Reyes says he has established.
“Yeah, I have a routine down. Mainly like my pre-game routine, I just roll out, stretch, make sure I don’t have all these knots or kinks in my body. I have a throwing routine down which Cy hates because it takes forever but it’s what I roll with.”
Reyes says his goals for 2018 are simple.
“Develop my slider and stuff during extended and obviously just pick up from last year. Last year, I finished on a good note so hopefully I can do that again this year. Hopefully we win another championship and get to celebrate again.”
My thanks to Marcus Reyes for taking part in this instalment of C’s Chat. You can find him on Twitter @marcusreyes03.