When will the Astros give AJ Reed another chance at the major league level? If at all?
Despite a 42-25 record for the Astros, first base hasn’t exactly been a productive position in 2018.
- Yuli Gurriel: .720 OPS in 179 plate appearances
- J.D. Davis: .712 OPS in 39 plate appearances
- Marwin Gonzalez: .515 OPS in 69 plate appearances
No doubt that the organization would like for improved production from a position with a collective .672 OPS. But Gurriel and Davis have been nearly average when manning the position while Gonzalez has been relatively bad. Sure, improvement will sooner or later come, especially from Gurriel. And to be fair, his hamate bone injury and subsequent surgery has been the likely cause for his lack of power.
At the same time, the Astros should start contemplating a contingency plan in case Gurriel’s power takes longer to come around.
In the meantime, Reed has been stuck in limbo with the Fresno Grizzlies with a .946 OPS in 256 plate appearances. Yes, Reed has been one of the best hitters in the entire Pacific Coast League.
AJ Reed, 2018 statistics
- 15 home runs
- 54 runs batted in
- 9 doubles
- 3 triples
Reed’s .946 OPS is currently the eighth-best in the PCL and his 15 home runs are the third-highest in the league. Compared to his performance in 2017, Reed has hit the ball with more consistency and power. The strikeouts have also noticeably improved with the rate now down 6.4% compared to last season’s figure. And the walk rate has jumped by nearly two percent. In conjuction with his improved hitting, Reed has been reaching base at a higher clip. The data is limited since it is only June, but the trends are encouraging.
Will the Astros promote Reed anytime soon?
In the short-term, it is rather doubtful that the Astros call up Reed to take over first base. For one, Gurriel will likely receive plenty of time to recover his power. I rather doubt that Houston’s front office is willing to give up on a player making $12.4 million when he just hit 18 home runs the previous season. Plus, Gurriel is held in higher regard for his defense at first base, but Reed has made strides in this department if you go solely by errors and fielding percentage. Reed did play well at first base by the eye test during spring training, at least from what I can recall.
Designated hitter could be a possibility, but Evan Gattis has turned it around since the first of May. Despite the slow start, the Astros’ primary DH and emergency catcher now has a 104 wRC+ for the season.
Injuries will likely be the only way Reed makes an impact anytime soon on the Astros’ major league roster. But Davis and Tyler White could also be possibilities due their position versatility. In other words, it will have to take a lot of events transpiring for Reed to receive the promotion.
Like I stated earlier, Reed is stuck in limbo with the Astros. While his improvement in the minors warrants a promotion sooner rather than later, there doesn’t appear to be an exact fit for him on the active roster. But if he continues to hit PCL pitching like he has this season, Reed could force the Astros’ hand.
**Statistics and information courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs**