Even when Denyi Reyes was just a kid growing up playing baseball in the Dominican Republic, he always knew God was preparing him for an opportunity on the big stage.
Now, he finds himself in Tokyo, a reliever on the Dominican Republic Olympic baseball team, accomplishing a lifelong goal to represent his home nation on the world’s stage.
“I have always been satisfied with the result that God has allowed me to have, be it good or bad,” the 24-year-old Reyes told Sports Spectrum this week. “Since my childhood, God has been my everything and always will be, before playing baseball. God promised me that I would play on big stages and now I am here.”
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Baseball was added back into the Tokyo Olympics along with women’s softball, and the baseball tournament features six countries: Japan, the United States, Mexico, Israel, South Korea and the Dominican Republic.
After an opening loss to Japan followed by a 1-0 win over Mexico, the D.R. ended up losing to South Korea on a walk-off single Sunday. It will play a must-win game against Israel at 6 a.m. ET on Tuesday to stay alive for a medal.
Reyes has been playing in the Boston Red Sox organization since 2015, slowly climbing the minor-league ladder, and reaching Double-A this season. With the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, the 6-foot-4, 255-lb. right-hander has been at the top of his game, making a total of 13 appearances with two starts, posting a record of 3-1 and a 2.90 ERA. In 40.1 innings of work, his sense of command has been clear, with just six walks and 43 strikeouts.
Though Reyes did not play with the Dominican Republic during the team’s qualifying tournament in Mexico from June 22-26, he was added to the Olympic roster due to his impressive play in the minor leagues this season.
He looked calm and confident as he came out of the bullpen for his Olympic debut on Sunday against South Korea. Coming in during the sixth inning to relieve starter Raul Valdes, Reyes fired two-thirds of an inning, keeping the D.R. in the lead, 3-1. He did not allow a hit or a walk and needed only 10 pitches to finish the inning.
“It is a pride and a privilege to represent my Dominican Republic, especially when you have been dreaming about it since childhood,” Reyes told Sports Spectrum. “I am proud to represent my country and my people in Palenque (in the province of San Cristóbal).”
Through the highs and lows that come with pitching at such a level, both internationally and in the minor league system, Reyes has turned to his faith for strength. He notes Psalm 37:5 as being a verse “that represents my life.” The verse says, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.”
Reyes has sought to not only grow his own faith, but also grow the faith of others. One way in which he has done this is through his YouTube channel, Historia Bíblica y Mas (Bible History and More), in which he has both documented his team’s run in Tokyo and covered topics in Biblical scripture, such as Israel as God’s chosen people, the key figures of the Bible, and questions such as, “What is the glory of God? What does it mean?”
Prior to the Olympics, Reyes was asked what he was looking forward to most about taking the field in Tokyo. His response was straightforward.
“Win the game,” Reyes responded. “That’s why everyone gives 100 percent.”
And he will give it all he has, continuing to be a light on the Dominican national team, whether that is on the mound, in the bullpen or on the bench.
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