Franmil Reyes feels like he’s found a home with Cubs
When the Guardians placed Franmil Reyes on waivers earlier this month, it seemed like a no-brainer type of move for the Cubs to take a flier on.
Many fans were clamoring for Jed Hoyer’s front office to put a claim in on Reyes and that’s exactly what the Cubs did last week.
This is a team that needs more power and another big bat in the lineup and the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Reyes strikes an imposing figure in the batter’s box. It doesn’t hurt that he already has a pair of 30-homer seasons to his name (including 37 dingers in 2019).
The 27-year-old slugger got off to a slow start to the season in Cleveland, hitting .213 with a .603 OPS and 37.1% strikeout rate in 70 games.
Before Reyes even played a game with the Cubs, manager David Ross said he wanted to see the team’s new DH get back to his all-field approach.
It didn’t take long for Reyes to deliver exactly that.
Reyes has 11 hits through 7 games with the Cubs and 6 of those 11 knocks have gone to the opposite field, including his first home run Tuesday night:
FRANIMAL 💪 pic.twitter.com/DWbg0Xx7hf— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) August 17, 2022
“The profile on him is that he’s a gap-to-gap hitter in a slugger body,” David Ross told reporters in Washington D.C. Wednesday. “He can handle the bat. You’ve seen him drive the ball all over the field and also get hits the other way like [Tuesday].
“That’s who he is. Talking to the guys that have been around him on an everyday basis, he can do that consistently.”
Part of the reason the Cubs felt confident in taking a flier on Reyes was the rapport he has with a couple of the team’s coaches. Bench coach Andy Green was Reyes’ first manager in the big leagues in San Diego and Reyes credits Cubs assistant hitting coach Johnny Washington with helping to jumpstart his career.
Reyes has a hit in every game he’s played with the Cubs so far and carries a .367 batting average and .733 slugging percentage so far.
How has he found success in Chicago after a tough year in Cleveland?
“Just the confidence,” he told Elise Menaker before smacking a pair of doubles in Wednesday’s victory. “I’m playing free. My mind is happy. I’m giving my best and selecting good pitches.”
For Reyes, it all comes back to confidence. He is feeling so good at the plate, he is not trying to do too much and only takes a handful of swings in the cages before games right now.
“In baseball, I think confidence is the most valuable thing,” Reyes said. “If you don’t have confidence, you’re not gonna have success. For me, these couple weeks, I’ve been up and down a lot.
“I finally found my spot. It looks like I landed right where I needed to be. God’s plans are perfect. I trust the plan and I trust myself.”
The change-of-scenery narrative is sometimes overblown in sports but with Reyes and the Cubs, something is clearly working right now.
“[The] change of environment and guys go somewhere else and they have a lot of success, it’s not because the place they left had anything wrong with it,” Ross said. “It’s just a mental switch or almost a little bit of a wake up call when you struggle.
“There’s a mindset change and a perspective there that gives you. … That perspective can be really good for some guys. Can be detrimental for some guys. Everybody handles it a little bit differently. I’m happy we got Franmil. He’s doing a really good job for us.”
Reyes is under team control for two more seasons after 2022, so if the pairing between him and the Cubs continues to click, he could be a big part of the lineup moving forward.
He’s also wasted no time endearing himself to his new teammates.
“High energy; he’s always smiling,” Drew Smyly said. “Great mood, positive guy. And he’s swinging it really well right now.
“That’s an awesome pickup by the front office to get him over here and work with our hitting coaches.”