SAN DIEGO -- As the St. Louis Cardinals are busy considering ways to improve their fracturing bullpen, top prospect Alex Reyes delivered the sort of performance in Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game that suggests the organization might already have its solution.
Reyes dazzled as the starter for the World Team, which earned an 11-3 victory over the U.S. squad. He struck out four (all swinging) and garnered those strikeouts on three different pitches -- fastball (twice), changeup and curveball. Reyes hit triple digits on the radar gun three times, including 101 mph twice, and had another eight fastballs clocked at 99.
"My changeup was a pretty good pitch today, and my fastball was explosive," Reyes said. "It must have been adrenaline, just being out there. It was only two innings, so I kind of wanted to let the fastball eat a little."
Reyes, a member of Triple-A Memphis' rotation, learned Sunday morning that he would be the first World pitcher to take the mound. He called it a "humbling" assignment, one he couldn't take last year when a shoulder injury forced him to withdraw from the Futures Game.
Reyes opened his outing with a strikeout of Andrew Benintendi and worked around a one-out triple with another two punchouts. One came on a 99 mph fastball, the other on a fastball that hit 101. Reyes allowed a double and a walk in the second before being pulled with two outs.
Reyes' outing drew the attention of scouts, media and other players who hadn't seen much of the 21-year-old, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the 11th-best prospect in baseball. It was also a reminder of the immediate impact he could have if the Cardinals were to summon him from Memphis. While there is no current opening in the rotation, Reyes could be a power arm in a bullpen that has shown some vulnerability as of late.
"If they want to, I feel like I'm ready, but I'm trying not to think about it too much," Reyes said. "As a player, you want to reach the big leagues no matter how. If they would ask for me to [join the big league bullpen], I would definitely do it."
While Sunday's performance exemplified why the Cards believe Reyes could develop into the organization's next front-line starter, it also reminded of the development steps left. He needed 38 pitches, 23 strikes, to notch five outs. Reyes threw five or more pitches to five of the eight batters faced and walked his last hitter on seven pitches.
Of course, pitch efficiency wouldn't be so much of an issue if the Cardinals temporarily pull Reyes out of a starting role and plug him into the 'pen.
Reyes was joined at Petco Park on Sunday by fellow Cards prospect Carson Kelly, who entered as the U.S. Team's catcher in the sixth inning. Kelly was robbed of a home run by Manuel Margot in the bottom half of the inning. Still, the results couldn't spoil the experience for Kelly, who earned his place among the game's top prospects less than three years after transitioning to the catching position.
"I think with catching, you have to buy into it, and I wanted to," Kelly said. "Now look where I'm at. I'm at the Futures Game. This is really cool and special. This is the best of the best."
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.