Matt Reynolds is here, and hoping to make baseball history
Recall Matt Reynolds, the 24-year-old middle infield prospect who dazzled at Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas in 2014, hitting .343/.405/.454 in 126 games between the two highest levels of the Mets minor league system.
He was drafted in the second round of the 2012 first-year player draft, the same year the Mets took Gavin Cecchini in the first round.
Of course, Reynolds is the older prospect, and his breakout year in 2014 pushed him past Cecchini in the minor league system.
Reynolds made a lot of noise in Spring Training for the Mets, especially with so much uncertainty at the big league level between Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada. In fact, he performed so well he was viewed as a big league contingency in the event Daniel Murphy was unable to start the regular season, as he was battling a mild strain in his hamstring towards the end of camp.
Murphy ultimately was able to begin the season, which resulted in Reynolds being sent back to Triple-A.
But with Flores struggling early in the year, the Mets never seemed inclined to give Reynolds a shot at the position, especially with the Mets seemingly tailspinning towards irrelevancy again by the middle of June.
Reynolds was doing ok offensively as the 51s shortstop by June 15, hitting .289 with a .755 OPS in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
But it wasn’t enough for the Mets to switch gears and give Reynolds a look at the big league level. Part of that had to do with real estate on the 40-man roster and Reynolds was not a part of that.
Another aspect to consider was Reynolds defense at shortstop. It was serviceable at best, and certainly wasn’t above and beyond what Flores was doing at the position at the big league level.
“As a competitor, I wanted to be up here and help the team win and get to the playoffs,” Reynolds said at Citi Field on Friday afternoon.
So Las Vegas is where Reynolds stayed. And then his season stalled thanks to an elbow injury which kept him out of action for nearly a month.
He returned to Las Vegas at the end of July after a brief rehab stint in Port St. Lucie, and never seemed to gain the momentum he had the year before, finishing with a .682 OPS and only 13 extra-base hits in his last 37 games.
When the season ended, Reynolds was not among those invited to the big league team when rosters expanded in September.
While that frustrated him, Reynolds immediately turned his focus to 2016.
“I accepted the fact I wasn’t called up and went into the offseason looking forward to next year and getting ready,” the 24-year-old infielder said.
But instead of going home, the Mets asked him to go to Port St. Lucie and work out at the team’s minor league complex throughout the month of September.
Why? He was viewed as insurance to the middle infield in the event Flores, Tejada, or Daniel Murphy got injured.
And when Tejada was left with a broken leg after Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers, Reynolds got his call.
“Unfortunately for Tejada, it happened and now I’m here just trying to make the most of my opportunity, and we’ll see what happen,” Reynolds said.
He has yet to play in a playoff game, meaning he has yet to make his big league debut. If he ends up playing, Reynolds will be the second player in the modern era to make his big league debut in the postseason.
Reynolds would also become the first player in baseball history to make his big league debut in the World Series.
“It’s been brought to my attention a few times, and if I end up making my debut in the World Series, that’s great,” Reynolds explained. “If not, I’m still here and I’m still part of the team. Honestly, I just want to do whatever I can to help this team win and win a World Series.”
Reynolds still needs to stay fresh and sharp while not playing. He showed up to the club’s voluntary workout on Friday in an effort to continue working in the cage and at shortstop. He spent a lot of time taking grounders, working on double plays, and simulating situations in the event his services are needed during the World Series.
“I take extra ground balls in batting practice,” said Reynolds. “Take live BP off a machine, just stay ready for live pitching.”
Even if Reynolds never makes an appearance in the 2015 postseason, he still plans to enjoy and soak in this unexpected opportunity to be a part of a championship team, live the big league life and absorb information and advice from his now big league teammates.
“It’s been very exciting just to be a part of this experience,” Reynolds said. “Not everyone gets to play in a World Series or even make the playoffs in their career. Just to be here to be a part of this team, to see what it’s like to be in the big leagues and to be in the playoffs is a remarkable experience, something I will cherish the rest of my life.”
And who knows? Maybe Terry Collins will ask Reynolds to be a hero in a historical event over the next ten days.