Zach Reks’ Dodger Debut – Welcome To The Show – Part 9
It was a moped ride through campus that changed Zach Reks’ life in 2015. Reks had taken a year off from school after a miserable freshman season at the Air Force Academy. He set conference records with his .609 batting average in high school. His time on the Air Force Academy team was much less successful. He struggled through 37 games to a .210 batting average and failed to hit a single home run. After his year off, Reks began anew at the University of Kentucky. UK coaches said he was too small to try out for the team. His burgeoning baseball career came to a pause.
In his year off of baseball during college, Reks continued to work out and throw with his roommate. It was on one of these days that an assistant coach for the University of Kentucky baseball team saw Reks hop off of his moped and begin to throw. That assistant coach was Rick Eckstein who is now the hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and is the brother of 2006 World Series MVP David Eckstein. Reks has referred to this chance encounter as a “freak thing,” but it was a stroke of good fortune for both sides. Eckstein’s Kentucky baseball team was in need of a left handed bat. With this need in mind, he decided to approach Reks with the offer of a tryout. A few weeks later Zach Reks had made the University of Kentucky team.
Restarting In Baseball
In his second chance in college baseball, Reks had grown a couple of inches and had added some muscle. With the help of Rick Eckstein, he changed his approach at the plate. In his time with the Air Force Academy, he focused on hitting the ball on the ground the other way. Eckstein encouraged Reks instead to drive the ball, and he did so with some added power. In the 2016 season Reks hit .331 with seven home runs, and after hitting .352 in 2017 he was drafted by the Dodgers.
Reks went 310th overall – in the 10th round – and signed for just a $5,000 bonus with the Dodgers. The White Sox had called him earlier in the draft to see if he would sign for a $100,000 bonus, and Reks told them he would not. Later he said he turned them down because he did not feel right taking their offer. Like many things with Reks, even the story of his draft is atypical.
After signing with the Dodgers, Reks went through rookie ball and Low-A ball very quickly. Just 21 games into his professional baseball career, he was promoted to High-A Rancho Cucamonga. From 2017 to 2019, Reks worked his way through the minor leagues, arriving in AAA Oklahoma City before a COVID-cancelled minor league season in 2020. He was added to the 40-man roster in the winter of 2020 while getting some reps in the Dominican Winter League. With this promising news, he returned to the US and began to prepare for the 2021 season.
Cup of Coffee
Reks balances his baseball with spending free time playing guitar and piano, painting, and running a coffee business. Although his schedule may look a little more diverse than most professional baseball players, Reks was ready for the start of the 2021 season. He began the year back in AAA with the Oklahoma City Dodgers, where he has batted .326 so far this season. This was enough to earn him a cup of coffee with the Dodgers last week. On June 21st, Zach Reks made his debut in San Diego at Dodger Stadium South. He went 0-for-2 with a strikeout. The Dodgers sent him back down to OKC with the return of Max Muncy from the injured list.
Although the proverbial “cup of coffee” was particularly small for Reks this time around, expect to see him back up in the majors soon. His ability to hit left handed pitching is something the Dodgers value highly.