Bold prediction, A.J. Reed will be the starting first baseman for the Astros in June, not opening day.
Granted, A.J. Reed has had the hottest Spring thus far. There was not much room for him to make the Houston Astros Opening Day 25-man roster coming into Spring Training. Not much has changed, but you want players to make it tough for A.J. Hinch to make final roster selections. Certain players have upped their value with their play so far, none more than Mr. Reed.
In only 25 at-bats this Spring, Reed has already surpassed his three big league homers he hit in 2016. He did that in 122 at-bats last year. Reed is not just hitting for power, but he also has a slash line of .360/ .448/ .880/ 1.328 this Spring. Last Spring he was hitting well, but not this good.
When he didn’t make the Astros Opening Day roster, it kind of led to him struggling in the minors and majors in 2016. Players are told that if they play hard, they could make the team. I don’t know the psyche of Reed, but he did get his chance in 2016.
Despite the struggles last year, Reed learned from his mistakes. He lost his swing and was not given much of a chance to play his way out of it. This was no ones fault but his own, but he knew he has to earn his way onto the big league roster. Reed was working out with the Astros staff this offseason. With the offseason additions, Reed needed to come to Spring Training ready to compete.
After coming on Talking Stros, I suggested to Reed that he should work with Jeremy Booth at Program 15.
After investigating with other participants, Reed made contact with Booth. They worked with Reed several times this offseason, focusing on losing weight and generate more bat speed.
Reed looks great at the plate so far, but it would be hard for him to make the 25-man roster. It looks like Yulieski Gurriel and Marwin Gonzalez will cover first base. Of course Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Bregman will man the rest of the infield spot. Brian McCann and Evan Gattis will be catcher and or DH when Carlos Beltran is in the outfield. George Springer, Josh Reddick, Jake Marisnick and Nori Aoki will cover the rest of the outfield.
The Astros will most likely carry 13 pitchers, so that leaves no room for Reed on the roster. Even if you could squeeze him in, where would he play? Gurriel could play in the outfield, but then where would Gattis get at bats outside of as a catcher. You could get rid of Marisnick or Aoki, but they both offer aspects to help the Astros win.
Reed needs regular at-bats, but he won’t do that with the Astros at the start of the year. He will most likely start the year in Triple-A Fresno, but will get the first call if there is an injury. Reed represents a big part of the future. The next time he comes up, hopefully it will be a permanent stay.
Keep doing what you do Reed, your time will come. If he goes down an swing a hot stick, he will be up before you know it. Opening day doesn’t look like a possibility at this moment. He is making Hinch’s decision a lot harder following his grand slam today.
***Statistics courtesy of MLB.com***