A.J. Reed is the talk of Houston Astros fans; gets invite to Spring Training
The Houston Astros made it official, yesterday. Prized first base prospect A.J. Reed will be invited to Big League camp in 2016. While this is not much of a surprise, it is validation for the slugger that dominated Minor League pitching at all levels in 2015.
Reed is coming off a year that saw him hit .340 with 34 homers and 127 r.b.i. in just 135 games. Splitting time between high-A Lancaster and double-A Corpus Christi, Reed also sported a .432 on base percentage and .612 slugging to combine for an eye-popping 1.044 OPS. Not surprisingly, Reed took home the Minor League Offensive Player of the Year award. The last two players to win that award were Kris Bryant (’14) and Joey Gallo (’13).
Hardware is nothing new to Reed. The former Kentucky Wildcat won the Golden Spikes award in 2014 for the best amateur baseball player in the country. It seems that no matter where he goes, people are giving him his deserved recognition. In fact, at the time of this article, the former 2nd round draft choice in 2014 is in Nashville at the Winter Meetings to receive another award. The Joe Bausman Home Run Award was presented to A.J. Reed in recognition of his hitting more regular season home runs than any other Minor Leaguer. While this will certainly be another exciting event to the young man, Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow will want to keep him away from the other GMs at the meetings.
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Houston has been linked to many different rumors this winter. Most say the Astros are hot for Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman while others see a fit between Houston and the Atlanta Braves in a deal for their first baseman, Freddie Freeman. You can bet that general managers are first kicking the tires on the Astros prized first base prospect, an inquiry that certainly makes Luhnow cringe.
Still, there are some ideas out there that maybe Reed is not the one to anchor first base in 2016 and beyond. Since that position was such a clear problem for Houston in 2015, writers have insisted that Houston not wait for Reed, but rather target another first sacker. Former Baltimore Oriole and current free agent slugger Chris Davis may make sense to the Astros. He is a big left-handed hitting first baseman that would fit well into the Astros lineup, and he would not cost Luhnow any of his coveted prospects. However, I’m not sure the Astros would elect to spend 0ver $100 million dollars on a first baseman when they have a stud like Reed waiting in the wings. Houston may begin to spend money soon, but I don’t think it will be this year.
I believe that the Astros will stand pat at first base and play a combination of Jon Singleton, Luis Valbuena, and Marwin Gonzalez at first base. Until the Super 2 deadline surpasses and A.J. Reed can claim his role, at first, base and as a presence in the heart of the Houston order.