Now that Carlos Correa is with the Houston Astros for good, who is the next best Astros’ prospect to keep an eye on? While most people would say that player is Alex Bregman, Daz Cameron, or Kyle Tucker, but they are all a few years down the road. There is one prospect who towers over the rest and that player is first baseman A.J. Reed. Drafted in 2014, Reed has already ascended into Double-A after a breakout season in 2015. Some experts are calling him the breakout player of the year and hopefully he will be breaking onto the Astros roster at some point in 2016.
One of the Astros biggest holes in the 2015 lineup was at first base, which was supposed to be manned by Jon Singleton at some point in the season. However, Singleton didn’t live up to the promise that he showed in the minor leagues. Instead, Chris Carter, Marwin Gonzalez, and Luis Valbuena all manned first base all year. Carter showed positive signs at the end of the season and into the playoffs, but he should not be counted on for too much longer by the Astros. Gonzalez seems to have found his niche in baseball, to be the super utility player that hits .270 when he plays. Valbuena’s streakiness has caused there to be some doubt that he should be part of the 25-man roster moving on.
While the Astros were fighting the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals in the playoffs, Reed went home for a little while to relax before having to report to the Arizona Fall League. Last year Mark Appel, Vincent Velasquez, and Joe Sclafani were part of the AFL roster. Normally, the AFL is for prospects who had down years to try to get more experience, but this is not the case for the Astros’ slugger Reed, who had a career year in 2015.
2015 Stats from Baseball-Reference: .340/ 34 homers/ 127 RBI/ 113 Runs with a slash line of .340 AVG/ .432 OBP/ .612 SLG/ 1.044 OPS between High-A Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi. Reed could so be good that I often compare him to another current great first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, minus the speed that Goldy possesses.
No, it’s no sure thing that the left-handed hitting Reed becomes as good as Goldy is, but you have to admit that his stats compares well to Goldschmidt’s. Reed does not have the speed factor, but they are both country-strong men who can mash: and mash he did in the 2015 Arizona Fall League Bowman Hitting Challenge this past Saturday.
Here is a description of the Challenge by MILB.com’s Tyler Maun.
"“The annual Hitting Challenge provides some of the league’s top offensive talent a chance to showcase their skills in a unique competition. Batters are awarded points for spraying baseballs at targets placed around the field as well as hitting home runs to different parts of the park. Each hitter gets a two-minute round to accumulate as many points as possible.” – Tyler Maun."
Reed won the American League portion of the challenge with 1,600 points, according to Maun. Reed will continue his play with his AFL Glendale Desert Dogs. Thus far, Reed is batting .333 in two games with three walks and two runs scored. Joining Reed on the Desert Dogs are Derek Fisher, J.D. Davis, and Chan-Jong Moon. The pitchers on the team are Brian Holmes, Chris Cotton, and Keegan Yuhl.
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This post is not the only time that we will write about A.J. Reed this offseason. Last year was the year of Correa; this year will be the year of Reed. When will he join the team? This will be the question that fans and media are asking the Astros throughout the offseason and spring training. My guess would be he would make his debut in June 2016 like Correa did in 2015. Carter will be given a chance to cover first base, should he fail, Singleton will be given a chance. Should both these players fail or are not on the team, it will be Reed time in Houston. He could be the RBI and contact type of hitter that puts the Astros over the top, but let’s see how it all plays out.
Here is an interview I did with Reed earlier in the 2015 season: Keeping Up With the Houston Astros Prospects: A.J. Reed. Keep up with the latest Astros’ buzz at CTH all offseason while the other guys are on vacation.
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