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Houston Astros: First baseman A.J. Reed to play a lot this Spring

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Sep 2, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) shakes hands with Houston Astros first baseman A.J. Reed (23) after scoring a run in the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 2, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) shakes hands with Houston Astros first baseman A.J. Reed (23) after scoring a run in the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports /
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While the Houston Astros players are away playing in the World Baseball Classic, the A.J. Reed’s will come out to play!

With Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and Jose Altuve heading off to the World Baseball Classic, there will be extra opportunities for young guys to play. With 3/4 of the infield playing elsewhere this Spring, some Houston Astros prospects will get an extra look. These absences mean guys like Tyler White, A.J. Reed, Reid Brignac, and Colin Moran will get extra playing time.

Besides Brignac, none of those players are true shortstops or second baseman. Marwin Gonzalez will not play every game, so low minor leaguers will get a chance. White played shortstop a few times last year, so maybe he will start there to build up versatility. A.J. Hinch will have some interesting infield combinations while the others are playing in WBC.

Reed will get a chance this Spring!

One guy who will get a lot of playing time would be Reed, who Hinch says has to hit his way onto the team. It’s a possibility that Reed could hit ten homers this Spring, but won’t make the opening day roster. We talked about this on this week’s Talking Stros. The position players are mostly set.

Unless Hinch decides to go with 13 hitters instead of 13 pitchers, Reed or White are the odd men out. The advantage that White has over Reed is the fact that he can play third, first, and possibly middle infield. He also showed some success at the end of last season after losing some weight. White is a right-handed hitter, which the Houston Astros don’t need in a possible first base platoon.

Reed, on the other hand, offers a left-handed power option to pair with Yulieski Gurriel. Via McTaggart, Hinch said that Reed also has to show that he is ready to handle first base as well. At this point, the designated hitter slot is not an option for Reed. Carlos Beltran and others will take turns as the DH, but Reed’s ticket is via first base.

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Fixing Reed.

This past offseason, I introduced Reed to Program 15’s Jeremy Booth. After gaining some weight last year, Booth had Reed work with a personal trainer. Booth also worked with Reed on keeping his bat in the strike zone longer. Reed told him that he has never had people teach him baseball, he could just do it on his own. Now that he has faced adversity, he is ready to battle back this spring.

Last year, Reed said that he wasn’t given a chance to work his way out of a slump. He took responsibility for being benched. But it’s hard to get in a rhythm if you are struggling and coming off the bench. By getting some extended looks this Spring, Reed could rediscover the ability that got him to the big leagues. The problem is, as Hinch mentions, first base is crowded now.

Next: 4 Rookie hitters who will have big roles in 2017

Hinch said that there is so much pressure put on the prospects to perform right away. Some of today’s stars struggled in their first stint in the  “It’s more important what he took away from 2016 and how he adapts and adjusts to how the league is pitching to him.” The Astros still believe in him, and he will get a chance to show his true colors in March. Isn’t the old phrase, March playing time brings April homers? Good luck Reed!

***Stats from Baseball-Reference***

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