ST. LOUIS -- Announcing his arrival with 101-mph fastballs and a pair of devastating curves, Alex Reyes capped a whirlwind 24 hours by living up to the hype Tuesday night.
The Cardinals' 7-4 loss to the Reds was highlighted by the debut of their top prospect, who jogged in from the bullpen as those who remained in the ballpark came to their feet. He treated the crowd to a 1-2-3 inning in which efficiency and command -- two facets that had plagued Reyes in the Minors -- were spot on.
"Ever since I played baseball in Little League, this is the kind of moment I've dreamed about," said Reyes, who had been called up from Triple-A earlier in the day. "My heart was pumping, definitely, but I felt kind of relaxed out there. I was just worried about executing pitches."
He executed with ease after throwing a first-pitch ball to Adam Duvall, who then took a pair of called strikes before Reyes blew a 101.4-mph fastball by him. That ball, Reyes said, is headed home to his father for safekeeping.
Reyes registered 101 mph on the radar again, three pitches later, though the curveball he flicked for a strike to Duvall may have been just as impressive. Following his first career strikeout with two groundouts, Reyes breezed through the clean inning on 11 pitches. He threw eight for strikes.
"It definitely gives you a lot more confidence," said Reyes, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as baseball's No. 9 overall prospect. "It was fun to be out there, and to get a 1-2-3 inning was huge."
"They've been looking for him for a long time, and he didn't disappoint," added manager Mike Matheny. "There's plenty to be excited about there. He just had great poise. He looked like he was in the moment and appreciating it but not overwhelmed. And his stuff looked as good as advertised."
Matheny had hoped to ease Reyes onto the big league stage and was afforded that opportunity after the Reds took a three-run lead in the eighth inning. That gave Reyes, who had never made an appearance in relief, plenty of time to warm up.
"It was electric," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We had one [scouting] report dating back to 2013. He had a huge number on him, meaning a high grade, and every single other report from every single scout in our system had this guy as a top-of-the-rotation-caliber talent."
The Cardinals plan to be cautious with Reyes since he is unfamiliar with the reliever routine, and therefore he likely won't pitch Wednesday. But there seemed no doubt that the first impression he left with the home crowd left much anticipation for the next.
"Just the experience of being out there on the mound in a big league stadium with a crowd like this made me really feel comfortable," Reyes said. "Nothing compares to this. It's my big league debut. It's a dream come true."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.