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Astros: Can A.J. Reed be the X Factor for the 2018 season?

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WEST PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 21: AJ Reed #23 of the Houston Astros poses for a portrait at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 21, 2018 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 21: AJ Reed #23 of the Houston Astros poses for a portrait at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 21, 2018 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Despite not getting the September call-up last season, A.J. Reed still has a chance to make the Astros roster opening day.

Yesterday, Spring baseball games again. It seems like yesterday that Charlie Morton got the final out of the 2018 World Series. We all remember where we were at that time. The Astros won that elusive Championship. Now as Spring games begin on Monday, the Astros have a packed roster with new and returning stars. With a loaded roster, you have to wonder when some minor leaguers will get a chance?

While you were watching the Astros play last September, you might have wondered when A.J. Reed would get his next chance. When rosters expanded to 40 players last September, Reed did not get the call up while others did. After signing Yuli Gurriel and the rise of Alex Bregman in 2016, it’s hard to see a place for Reed to start. Instead of Reed, the Astros relied on Tyler White and J.D. Davis in September.

Hinch and Reed talk it out.

When A.J. Hinch was asked about Reed, he noted that Reed was having a better second half of the season. According to Hunter Atkins, Hinch didn’t want to call up too many players during the playoff drive. That makes sense in a way. Since he was a top prospect, things have not gone well for Reed. He admitted that he was frustrated last season when he did not get the call.

Atkins wrote that the player and manager had a meeting to discuss last season and where Reed fits for 2018. While no guarantees were given, Hinch did tell Reed that he had a strong shot to make the opening day roster. With Gurriel’s five-game suspension following the incident with Yu Darvish, there is a chance that Reed could be that 25th player. This could be Reed’s first real chance to stick since 2015.

We discussed this on this week’s CTH Podcast.

Too soon to declare a winner.

While White could be the early favorite to replace Gurriel temporarily, Reed could open eyes this Spring. It seems like every year a new player comes out and surprise when given a chance. We have seen White, Chris Devenski, and Brad Peacock be the surprise players in spring camp. As I stated on Talking Stros, I think Reed could impress and stick this season.

For that to happen, Reed must earn a spot on the team. Should he earn that spot while Gurriel is suspended, his primary competition would be the third catcher. To stay, he would have to eliminate the need for Max Stassi or Tim Federowicz. Reed showed some pop last season in Triple-A by hitting .261 with 34 homers and 104 RBIs.

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Reed has also reported to camp 25 pounds lighter this year by cutting out alcohol and certain foods. Players like Reed have always been good at baseball, so he has to learn how to be good at the next level. Once he clicks, he has the potential to be an impact bat. It will be interesting to watch how his Spring progresses, will he be able to beat out White and J.D. Davis? Even if White makes the OD roster, Reed could still have the biggest impact.

***Stats from Baseball-Reference***

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