James Reeves was drafted by the Yankees in 2015 out of the 10th round. The left-hander is from South Carolina and went to college at The Citadel where he started and was awarded Southern Conference pitcher of the year.
Reeves, in his rookie year, was sent right to Staten Island to begin his professional career. He would appear in 13 games as a reliever, throwing 26 1/3 innings and maintaining a 3.08 ERA to end the season. In this innings, he totaled 27 strikeouts, 12 walks, one home-run, and nine earned runs.
Reeves would start the season in Low-A Charleston with the RiverDogs, but this time there would be short. The lefty’ pitched in just four games before being promoted to High-A Tampa where he’d ultimately finish the regular season. In Charleston he recorded 15 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched, giving up just three earned runs. Reeves would take the FSL by storm and make quite the name for himself despite being in just his second season. He’d also return to starting games by the end of the season. In Tampa, Reeves finished with a 2.27 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP to go with it. With his 94 strikeouts in 83 1/3 innings, his SO/9 % was 10.15, and he only walked 26 batters.
Reeves was invited to Spring Training to start the 2017 campaign, but an injury came his way when he suffered a ligament sprain in his elbow before he could get there. He would get a late start on the season and go back to Tampa, though it seems like he was going to start in Trenton if all went as planned before the injury. Reeves would come out of the bullpen in all 20 of his appearances with Tampa. He would toss 35 2/3 innings, striking out 41 and walking just seven. Reeves eventually ended the season with Trenton again, appearing in six games. He threw 10 1/3 shutout innings and struck out 10 as well.
Reeves is primarily an off-speed thrower and with the confidence to throw his secondary pitches at any point in the count. His slider has been compared to that of Andrew Miller’s, and his changeup has progressed throughout the years as well. His fastball will stay in the 91-92 mph range, but his placement is what helps him make up for its speed. Reeves’ changeup will still need more work, and for a pitcher who relies on off-speed and movement, consistency will be the biggest thing for him, but he has shown little of that being an issue thus far into his career.
Reeves was invited to Spring Training last year; it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get another invited this year and start the season in Triple-A. Should he start in Trenton, he has been on the fast-track throughout his career because he is a bit older, so don’t expect that to stop anytime soon.
The only hold-up would be the organization deciding on whether he is a starter or reliever, which is still in the air. He’ll most likely crack the majors as a reliever, but he has shown in the last two season that he can do both.
It seems as though the Yankees will keep trying him in both spots and groom him in an Adam Warren hybrid role. Expect big things from Reeves in 2018 should he stay healthy, which has been somewhat of an issue dating back from college.
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