The 23-year-old from Tulsa, Oklahoma split the season between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas, posting equally impressive numbers at both levels. So good was his output for the 51s in 2014 (.355 batting average and a .430 on-base percentage) that he earned the Sterling Award for best Triple-A player. Quite a change from one season ago when he hit .226 in 433 at-bats for High-A St. Lucie. So, what made the transformation possible?
Reynolds told us in this weeks Minor League Q&A...
Brender: What has the experience at the Arizona Fall League been like so far?
Reynolds: It’s been great. I’m getting to play with a lot of great players that are in the minor leagues right now. I’m learning a lot and I’m getting to see what great, young talent looks like. It’s fun getting to play with these guys because you get to see all your competition in the minor leagues. It's been fun so far. I can’t wait to keep it going.
Brender: How enjoyable is it to also play in the AFL with other Mets prospects, like Brandon Nimmo and L.J. Mazzilli, and have the chance to get to know them better?
Reynolds: It’s fun. I’ve never been able to play with Nimmo, but he and I are good friends. I remember the first time I saw him play and now I get to watch him in the Arizona Fall League. I’ve seen how much he’s grown as a player and as a person. It’s unbelievable. I met L.J. in Spring Training this year. We were actually locker-mates, so I knew L.J. coming in and he came to Vegas at the end of the year. I try to help him out, and if he sees something with me, he helps me out. It’s fun because you get to see what the future is going to look like with the Mets.
Brender: Is there a lot of individual instruction given at the Fall League or do they just give you the lineup and let you go play?
Reynolds: When we were practicing the first few days they didn’t say too much. They just kind of let you get your feet wet and get used to being on the field again, but the last couple of days of practice they were working with us on ground balls. We’re playing on fields that are a little bit faster, so our manager was telling us to play a little bit deeper because the ball is going to get on us. They just talk about little things. They’re helping us out in all aspects of the game, really.
Brender: You’ve had a few weeks to digest the 2014 season. Did you feel like it was as successful as your stats would indicate?
Reynolds: Yeah, I felt like I was very successful this year and I was very happy with what I did, but obviously I don’t want to get complacent. There’s obviously a lot of things I want to work on and being at the Arizona Fall League is just another opportunity to prove what kind of player I am against some of the best competition in the minor leagues. I’m definitely happy with what I did but I’m looking forward to becoming a better player.
Brender: What was the biggest adjustment you made that allowed you to be successful at the plate in 2014 after struggling the previous two years?
Reynolds: In the offseason I worked with a guy named Rick Strickland up in St. Louis. I was pulling off the ball really bad and he helped me with my swing to stay long through the zone. When I do that I’m on almost every single pitch, because even if I’m just a little bit out front I still catch it at the end of the barrel and I can still drive it. If I’m a little bit late I’m still inside the ball and I can hit a line drive to the right side of the field. Also my approach. When I was in High-A, I was looking to pull the ball a little too much, trying to be somebody that I never was. I got back to my old approach from when I was in college of trying to drive the fastball to right center field and adjust to the off speed. I did that this year and I tried to remain consistent with my approach, to do that on every at-bat and it worked out for me.
Brender: Did the coaching staff in Double-A or Triple-A work with you on anything specific during the season?
Reynolds: They really didn’t mess with me at all. The only thing they helped me with in my swing was helping me pull the ball. I kind of got exposed about two weeks after being called up to Triple-A. They were feeding me fastballs inside and I wasn’t hitting them very well, so I worked with our hitting coach George Greer on pulling the ball for about four or five days and I started being able to pull the ball really well. I started hitting more home runs, more doubles and, next thing you know, I scared them out of throwing me inside fastballs and they went back to my bread and butter of fastballs away.
Brender: Do you feel like more of a complete hitter than you were even half a season ago?
Reynolds: Yeah, 100 percent. When I was in Double-A, I felt like I could drive the ball to right field whenever I wanted but I had problems pulling the ball. When I got to Triple-A, I worked on pulling the ball and it allowed me to make adjustments on the fly. Now I can look for that middle-in fastball and drive it.
Brender: Did you feel any disappointment when you didn’t get called up to the big leagues in September?
Reynolds: No, I didn’t feel any disappointment because I hadn’t really gotten my hopes up for it. I knew that there is a business side of the game and it was a business decision. I respect what they did. They never led me on. I’m coming into the offseason after a good year and trying to reach my goal of getting to the big leagues next year.
Brender: What are your plans for the rest of the offseason after the AFL is done?
Reynolds: I’ll probably get some hunting in right when I get back. Probably take a week or two off to let the body rest a little bit before I start hitting the weights hard. I’ll be in Fayetteville, Arkansas at the University training and I’ll probably head to Port St. Lucie the beginning of February.