It seemed apparent once Tyler White came back to earth that A.J. Reed, the runner-up to Minor League Player of the Year Blake Snell in 2015, would be called up. That happened Friday.
BA correspondent Jake Kaplan confirmed the callup of Reed, the hulking first baseman who was our College Player of the Year in 2014 as a two-way star at Kentucky. But since turning pro, Reed has been all about the bat.
Reed dominated the minors in 2015, leading all minor leaguers with 34 homers, 127 RBIs and a 1.044 OPS. While the Astros began the year with Jonathan Singleton, White and utility man Marwin Gonzalez as options, it seemed just a matter of time before the No. 11 overall prospect in the game hit his way to the majors.
Although he hasn’t been quite as good in 2016, his numbers are still strong at .266/.345/.509 with 11 homers, 36 RBIs and 28 walks. He continues to hold his own against lefthanders as he has in his brief pro career, most notably a .444 slugging percentage against southpaws, although he has struck out 19 times in 63 at-bats.
And while high Class A Lancaster and the offense-heavy California League aided Reed’s numbers in 2015, his swing, strike-zone judgment and track record say his bat is for real.
Reed has a deadly combo with plus power and great selectivity. He has the toolset to be at least an average hitter as well as hit for power and get on base. Reed does a great job recognizing pitches, able to differentiate between good strikes and pitches he can drive. He frustrates pitchers with a knack for spoiling pitches.
On the negative side of the ledger, he can get tied up up and in because of his long arms. Reed is a plodding runner and not athletic and he’ll have to work to maintain his conditioning. At first base, he’ll be adequate at best.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Astros expected to bring up Reed when they felt he was most ready to stick, and they are calling him up in the midst of a hot streak (16-for-43, three homers). He’ll get the bulk of playing time at first base and occasionally DH and the Astros will hope he stays here for a long time.