If A.J. Reed is Ready, are the Houston Astros ready?
With the first base job wide open yet again at the start of Spring Training, the Astros already know the answer to who is the future at first. It is just a matter of time until A.J. Reed, the fourth best prospect in the Astros system and the best first base prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline, takes over not only the position but also the cleanup spot in the lineup too. So if the Astros know what the answer is, why not have him up at the start of the 2016 season? Here is why Reed should be starting at first base and batting cleanup for the Houston Astros on Opening Day in 2016.
The first thing that jumps off the stat sheet for Reed is his power. In 2015, split between A+ Lancaster and AA Corpus Christi, Reed hit 34 home runs and drove in 127 RBI’s which both led the MiLB. He also hit for a .612 slugging percentage.
Reed did what he was supposed to do at first base. He provided the offensive power in the middle of the lineup, which is expected out of every first baseman in the major leagues. However, he did something that you rarely see in an Astros first baseman; he could actually hit and get on base.
Reed hit a combined .340 with 178 hits and an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of 1.044, which led the MiLB. He also walked about 16.4 % of the time and had a .384 BABIP.
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The Astros organization and fans may argue that they don’t want to rush Reed into a starting role as they did with Jonathan Singleton, who before he even played a game in an Astros uniform, they signed him to a five-year extension for $10 million dollars.
If Reed does not make the club out of Spring Training, Singleton will most likely be the starter on Opening Day. In his first 114 games as an Astro, Singleton has underperformed immensely. He has a .171 batting average with a .621 OPS and hit 14 home runs and 50 RBIs. What is really shocking is his strikeout numbers. Singleton has struck out in 35.9% of his plate appearances as a big leaguer including striking out 134 times in 94 games in his rookie season.
Reed joined the guys at #TalkingStros, despite some audio issues.
Reed does have a similar problem but not on the same scale. He struck out 19.6% of the time in 2015. However, he has proven in the minors, unlike Singleton, that he can get on base.
The plan for 2016 should be not to have Singleton at first base. That is the main goal here. The only other option for this Astros team is to put Reed there and see how he performs. Based on the recognition he has already gotten, Reed should complete this Astros lineup not in late April or May, but on April 4th at Yankee Stadium.
Stats from Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs