Outfielder Buddy Reed starred in baseball, hockey and soccer as a prep at St. George’s School in Middletown, R.I. His raw athletic ability got him drafted by the Rangers in the 35th round in 2013, but he opted to attend Florida rather than sign.
Reed played for two College World Series teams with the Gators before the Padres, like the Rangers enticed by his athleticism, made him a 2016 second-round pick.
Reed turns 23 this season and stands in at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, and as he enters his third pro season his bat could be beginning to catch up with his raw tools.
Case in point: The switch-hitting Reed blasted 10 home runs while batting .326/.363/.659 in 31 games for Canberra last winter in the Australian Baseball League. His lefthanded swing that lagged last year at low Class A Fort Wayne produced a .279 average and seven homers in 108 at-bats. He went 15-for-30 with three homers as a righthanded batter.
The speedy Reed, a plus-plus runner out of the draft, also went 5-for-6 in stolen base attempts in Australia.
“He’s obviously a tremendous athlete who’s making up for a lack of baseball experience,” farm director Sam Geaney said. “I think he’s always been an upside play—an upside pick—but I definitely saw some things (in the offseason) that got me very excited about him turning the corner as an offensive player.
“It’s very exciting what he could turn into if he continues to progress.”
Though he missed a month with a back injury in 2017, Reed finished his first full season with six homers, 12 steals in 20 attempts and a .234/.290/.396 batting line in the Midwest League. His speed, long legs and plus range could transform him into a gifted defender in center field, but Reed knows his bat is the make-or-break tool that will carry him further up the ladder.
Reed begins 2018 at high Class Lake Elsinore, where he will rotate between center and left field with Edward Olivares.
“The biggest thing for me is seeing more pitches and being comfortable getting to two strikes and doing damage with two strikes,” said Reed, who had a .379 OPS when behind in the count last year at Fort Wayne. “I haven’t been playing baseball as long as some of the other guys have, but I’m in pro ball now. It’s time to grow up, time to be a professional and time to do what I can, regardless of how many at-bats I have.
“I have to come out each day, work harder and try to be better than everyone else.”
>> Lefthander MacKenzie Gore threw approximately 80 innings his junior year in high school in 2016, then about 100 during his senior year and pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2017 after the Padres made him the third overall pick. The Padres see 120-130 innings as a logical progression as he starts 2018 at low Class A Fort Wayne. There, Gore was lined up as the team’s sixth starter to begin the year.
>> The Padres’ youth in the minor leagues was apparent on Opening Day. The organization had the youngest regular player in each of their four affiliates’ leagues: second baseman Luis Urias in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. in the Double-A Texas League, second baseman Eguy Rosario in the high Class A California League and third baseman Justin Lopez in the low Class A Midwest League.