Player: A.J. Reed
Drafted by: Houston Astros
DOB: 05/10/1993 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 245 pounds
Previously Drafted: 25th round, 2011 (Mets)
When we think about two-way players, we tend to think of athletic, toolsy position players with tons of natural arm strength. Well, that isn’t the case with Kentucky first baseman/left-handed pitcher A.J. Reed, whose robust raw power is arguably the best among college hitters and will prevent him from pitching professionally.
Though drafted by the Mets as a pitcher in the 25th round of the 2011 draft, he chose to honor his scholarship to Kentucky, where’s he put together a track record at the plate that’s as consistent as his power. After batting .300 with four home runs as a freshman in 2012, he launched 13 bombs the following year while maintaining a .280 batting average and reducing his strikeout rate.
This season the junior is batting .351 with a .491 on-base percentage, 17 doubles, 70 RBI and a 46-47 ratio of strikeouts to walks through 58 games. Heading into the NCAA tournament, he currently leads the nation with a .768 slugging percentage and 23 home runs.
Reed also has dominated on the mound this season as the Wildcats’ ace, posting an 11-2 record and 2.10 ERA in 103 innings, spanning 15 starts. As of result of his overwhelming success as a two-way player, he has been named to the midseason watch list of the prestigious Golden Spikes Award.
However, given the dearth of impact bats in this year’s class, teams should be more inclined to go all-in on Reed’s left-handed power early in the draft.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Left-handed hitter’s bat has steadily improved during his time at Kentucky; very underrated feel for hitting; makes consistent hard contact thanks to good barrel control; limited amount of swing-and-miss to his game, especially considering his power; advanced pitch recognition and approach allow him to control the zone; works deep counts in his favor; should consistently reach base at a solid clip.
6’4”, 245-pounder possesses arguably the best raw power among college hitters; bat speed is above-average and is partially rooted in his strength; creates leverage in swing by using power lower half; produces prodigious blasts to pull side and straightaway center field; power is expected to translate as a professional.
Being a well below-average runner will limit him to a career at first base or designated hitter.
Plus arm strength is evidenced by success on the mound as Kentucky’s ace; fastball registers at 91-93 mph.
First base-only prospect; size and lack of athleticism give him no chance of moving to corner outfield spot; solid around the bag with good hands.
MLB Player Comparison: Anthony Rizzo
Reed and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo have a lot of similarities, as both players are power-hitting, first base-only prospects with solid on-base skills and an underrated feel for hitting.
Projection: First-division first baseman
Major Leagues ETA: Late 2015
Chances of Signing: 90 percent
Power is a valuable premium in this year’s draft class, and no player has more usable thump than Reed.