After a sophomore season at Midland College in Texas, where he hit .347, scored 74 times, batted in 44 runs and stole bases, Matt Reyes was rewarded with an opportunity to move up to the Division I level and play for the New Mexico Lobos.
In his first season with the program, Reyes — an infielder/outfielder this season for the Winter Garden Squeeze — wasn’t given much of an opportunity to show what he could do. He registered just six at-bats as a junior with the program.
Undeterred, the Midland native is making a statement so far this season with the Squeeze (9-7) — Reyes is hitting .339 for Winter Garden, has scored 11 times and 10 stolen bases.
“I think that (not playing much at New Mexico) lit a little fire in him to come here and have a good season,” Squeeze head coach Ruben Felix said.
Felix certainly doesn’t mind the strong play from the rising senior. Reyes was an important part of the stretch of play during the second week of the season that saw Winter Garden briefly sit atop the standing in the Florida Collegiate Summer League.
Now, the catalyst for much of the Squeeze’s offense is looking to continue to improve and
make the case for a bigger role at the program at New Mexico when he returns.
“I was just thinking on the drive over here (to Florida) that it’s just another (summer) season — I try not to look at it to where it could be the last one,” Reyes said. “I’m just working on being a little more patient on the field and at the plate.”
Enjoying himself on the playing field, Reyes said he also has enjoyed his experience so far in Florida and getting to know his teammates as they continue through the Winter Garden franchise’s first season of existence.
“I really love Florida,” Reyes said. “I’ve met some great people, great coaches and some great family. These teammates have really become my family in a short period.”
Felix values Reyes as a quiet leader on the team and said he has plenty of potential to be a star in his final season at the college level — and perhaps beyond.
“He reminds me of a guy in pro ball — like a centerfielder type of guy in pro ball, a leadoff type of guy,” Felix said. “I texted his head coach (at New Mexico) this morning and said ‘Hey, this guy’s tearing it up … next year there’s no reason this guy’s not a superstar at your program.’”