At the end of a seemingly never-ending struggle that was the first half of the 2019 season, the Detroit Tigers now find themselves in last place in the AL Central heading into a much-needed All-Star break.
Injuries to every facet of the Detroit Tigers roster and frustrating performances have enraged Tigers fans, but despite all the noise, two youngsters have taken significant steps this summer.
The injuries and struggles need to be discussed, but so do some quiet contributions from these two players. Let’s step away from the madness for a few minutes to give credit where credit is certainly due.
After being called up from Triple-A Toledo to fill in for the injured Jacoby Jones, Reyes has shown off his tools and filled in nicely for Jones both in center field and the leadoff spot. The 24-year-old Reyes has impressed with four hits, two RBIs, and four runs scored in a short five-game span.
The young outfielder seems comfortable with his retooled swing from both sides of the plate and has certainly proved to have the range to cover centerfield. Standing tall at 6-foot-5 with plus speed on the basepaths as well, Reyes has flashed five tools in his brief stint and possesses plenty of upside.
After struggling over a full big-league season in 2018 after being picked number one overall in the Rule 5 draft, Reyes gained comfort and maturity in a low-stress environment with the Mud Hens. That was always the plan with Reyes, get him through last season to retain him on the roster and let him develop in the minors.
That plan has worked to a tee.
Reyes was hitting a robust .302 with nine home runs and 55 RBI in just 65 games with Toledo, earning him International League Player of the Month in June and a starting spot on the International League All-Star team.
With Nicolas Castellanos on the trading block, Reyes is primed to take over his starting spot in right field upon Jones’ return to the lineup. With the tools and ability he’s shown off of late, Tigers fans should be excited about the future of Victor Reyes.
The aforementioned Harold Castro has been equally as impressive as Reyes, just over more major league at-bats. Castro, also young at the age of 25, has impressed when given opportunity with the Tigers in June and July.
Castro is hitting .294 with one home run and nine RBIs in 102 at-bats over 33 games, playing every position on the diamond with the exception of shortstop, pitcher, and catcher. His versatility has allowed him to stay in the lineup on a consistent basis, and he’s doing the most with his plate appearances.
Like Reyes, Castro also began the season in Toledo and impressed. Castro hit .328 with four home runs and 25 RBIs over 31 games, kicking off the season as the Mud Hens’ best hitter. In the major leagues, Castro has possessed impressive plate discipline and bat skills, often working counts and hitting to all fields.
There will be plenty of opportunity for Castro in the second half, as Ron Gardenhire will continue to play the youngster every day down the stretch. And given his versatility, it won’t be hard for him to get worked into the lineup.
In a frustrating 2019, it’s easy to get caught up in the injuries and disappointments, but let’s get excited about the potential of Reyes and Castro both his year and for many years to come as the Detroit Tigers continue to rebuild.