Astros designate former top prospect A.J. Reed for assignment

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 29: A.J. Reed #23 of the Houston Astros throws the ball to first base for a force out in the 2nd inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 29, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 29: A.J. Reed #23 of the Houston Astros throws the ball to first base for a force out in the 2nd inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 29, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images) /
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Former top prospect A.J. Reed has seen his star wane in recent seasons, ultimately resulting in losing his 40-man roster spot with the Astros.

When news broke that the Astros would be calling up Jose Urquidy, speculation abounded as to how they would handle adding him to the 40-man roster. With the 40-man roster full and no obvious candidates for the 60-day IL, the team elected to designate first baseman A.J. Reed for assignment, thereby removing him from the 40-man roster.

The Astros now have seven days to resolve Reed’s roster situation. He can be traded or released in that time, or if he passes through waivers, he can be outrighted to the minors. So if he’s not traded, released or claimed, he could still be on the minor league roster but not on the 40-man roster.

But the Astros also run the risk of losing the 26-year-old slugger if he is claimed on waivers. This outcome would have seemed unfathomable just three years ago, but is now a reality for a former can’t-miss prospect who has turned into just a miss.

Fall From Grace

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Reed was the Astros’ second round draft pick in 2014 after starring at Kentucky. His 2015 season was excellent, as he hit .340/.432/.612 with 34 homers and 127 RBIs between Class-A advanced and Double-A. He was also ranked as the team’s fourth-best prospect in 2015.

He never put it together at the big league level, though, as he hit just .164/.270/.262 in 45 games with the Astros in 2016. He did hit another 34 homers at Triple-A in 2017, but he hasn’t been able to earn any significant big league playing time since, appearing in just three total games the past two seasons.

Further, he’s seen his numbers decline at Triple-A over the past two years. He hit .255/.344/.506 with 28 homers and 108 RBIs in 2018, while he’s at .224/.329/.469 this year with 12 homers in 56 games. He’s also struck out 67 times this season, further exacerbating his woes.

What Comes Next

It wouldn’t be surprising to see another team take a flier on Reed. He’s still relatively young and still hits for power, so there could be a needy team willing to take a chance. Reed has been largely blocked at the major league level the past few seasons anyway.

On the other hand, his numbers at Triple-A don’t scream that he’s someone deserving of another shot. It’s entirely possible he clears waivers and is outrighted to Triple-A. In that scenario, he’ll continue to try and work his way back to the Astros.

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Either way, this is a clear sign that the Astros no longer believe Reed has the type of future they had envisioned when drafting him. They could have traded him a few seasons ago for a good return, but now his value is minimal. It just goes to show that as good as a prospect may seem, they don’t always pan out.

***Statistics courtesy of MiLB.com***

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