Generally, Triple-A players can be placed into one of three categories.

• Prospects

• Former big-leaguers, looking to get back

• Roster fillers

But on every team there is usually an exception or two. For the Tucson Padres, the biggest exception this year may be relief pitcher Jorge Reyes.

You won't find Reyes' name on any lists of San Diego's top 20 prospects. He's never been to the big leagues, but he's also no roster filler.

So what is he?

"He's money," Tucson manager Pat Murphy said. "That's what he is. I've been telling anyone who will listen that this kid has been money.

"I think he's a valuable asset, and I think he's on the Padres' radar; they are well aware of him."

Reyes has made 10 appearances for Tucson this season and boasts a 1.80 ERA and a 3-0 record. He has scattered 14 hits over 20 innings and has 17 strikeouts.

The right-hander has been used in long relief, as a setup man and as a situational guy brought in to get just one or two righties out.

This all after a 2012 season in which he made 24 starts and pitched 152 innings for Tucson.

In other words, he can do it all.

"When you're a starter, you try to throw more strikes and set guys up because you know they're going to come up again," said Reyes before Tucson's 8-3 win over Albuquerque. "As a guy in the bullpen, you go in they're only going to see you one time so you try to let it go and attack them a little bit more aggressively."

The latter seems to agree with Reyes more and may be his eventual ticket to the big leagues.

Last season, Reyes was getting close to his innings limit for the year, and then-manager Terry Kennedy moved the Oregon State product to the bullpen for the final three weeks of the season.

Reyes, who had a 5.41 ERA as a starter, gave up just two earned runs in 12 1/3 innings. Kennedy noticed Reyes was being more aggressive, throwing with higher velocity and pitching with more confidence.

So when the right-hander reported for spring training this year, the Padres informed him they wanted to keep him in the bullpen.

"The Padres organization analyzed what they need and what's best for Jorge, and they've convinced Jorge that this is his best deal," Murphy said. "If you had to subtract a player from our team, he would be in the top two or three that I would want you least to subtract."

The 25-year-old uses a three-pitch mix consisting of a sinker, splitter and slider. He throws in the low 90s and has had success making hitters get groundball outs with his sinker.

The move to the bullpen has obviously been an adjustment, but not a bad one. He has altered his pregame routine to make sure he's ready to go in at any moment.

He enjoys the unknown of when he's going to pitch and likes that he can be called on at any point.

Of course it wasn't always like that. As a pitcher, the goal is always to be a starter.

"When I first got sent to the pen, I was a little upset about it," Reyes said. "You have your routine as a starter, you know when you're going to throw. Out of the bullpen, you don't. This year, there are games where you think you're going to go in and you don't. It's something I've learned to do. I'm always paying attention, and when my name is called, I do my little thing to get ready and then go in there.

"I really like it now."


• What: Albuquerque at Padres

• When: 7:05 p.m.

• Radio: 1290-AM

¡Tus Padres!

• Highlight: The Padres scored all eight of their runs in the fifth inning and cruised to their fifth straight victory. Tucson (16-17) sent 14 batters to the plate in the eight-run fifth and saw 11 straight batters reach base. Rene Rivera, Thad Weber, Dean Anna, Daniel Robertson, James Darnell and Jonathan Galvez all had RBIs in the inning. Rivera was the lone Padres player with multiple hits in the win.

• Big number: 4: Weber was the fourth straight Tucson starter to earn a win. The right-hander hurled six productive innings, giving up just one earned run and striking out five. He improved to 4-1.

• Tonight's starters: Tucson RHP Eddie Bonine (0-2, 5.32 ERA) vs. RHP Angel Castro (2-2, 3.30 ERA)

Daniel Berk