Can a guy already feel like a bust before losing his rookie eligibility? With the help of A.J. Reed, I’m going to say yes. Already post-hype prospect while still being a rookie? Already past his prime at 23 years old? A.J. Reed is accelerating expectations, which isn’t nearly as good as exhilarating expectations. It’s actually much worse. Like a barista who can’t make foam worth a damn, Reed was a first cup of coffee flop. Could it have been nerves or did we overestimate his potential? In 2015, A.J. Reed hit 34 HRs across High and Double-A with an average north of .335. Then, last year in Triple-A, he hit 15 HRs and .291 in half a season. He averaged about five homers per month with a solid average, which translates to 30 HRs and .270 in the majors, with all things being almost equal. “With All Things Being Almost Equal” sounds like one of the dozen of books written by Dave Eggers that no one has read. “Oh my God, I love Dave Eggers!” “Have you read anything by him after his debut book?” “God no.” That is every conversation about Eggers since 2002. Okay, off track! Anyway, what can we expect from A.J. Reed for 2017 fantasy baseball?
I’d say there was some warning signs in Reed’s minor league numbers that people were either not worried about or willing to ignore. He looks exceptionally prone to striking out vs. fastballs. He needs to guess maybe a millisecond sooner than most to giddy up his swing. In the minors last year, he had a strikeout percentage of 23%. Put that through Google’s “Minors to MLB Translator” and out spits a 34%. Can’t hit .240 with that. Last year in 122 ABs, he hit .164. Um, poo. I’d argue — Or as Billy Idol would say, I’m just arguing with myself! — that Reed just needs to familiarize himself with major league pitchers. If he can wait for his pitch, get a better read on pitchers, face them a few times, he could do damage. Watching video of Reed, he strikes me as a guy that could hit 30 HRs with ease. He generates power and I’m an energy voter. (I’m not, I don’t even know what that means. Have you ever seen more commercials for something and still have no idea what the hell they are talking about? Sometimes, I’ll turn on the lights and say to Cougs, “I’m an energy voter.” Then, I’ll turn off the lights and say, “I’m not an energy voter.” Okay, maybe you have to be there.) Asking a 23-year-old to come in and face pitchers he’s never seen, and the best pitchers in the world — sorry, China! — and succeed isn’t going to be easy for someone like Reed, but he looks like he could get there. Other good news is the Astros’ 1st base and DH spots long for some sweet, sweet Reed (assuming they don’t make a trade this offseason). So, other than maybe sitting vs. lefties, Reed should play. What’s more fun than making lazy comparisons? Nothing! So, with that said, Lance Berkman in his first season hit .237 and 4 homers in 93 ABs at 23 years old then broke out in his next season. I mean, sure, he doesn’t look like Berkman and Berkman was a switch-hitter, but for lazy comparisons’ sake, that’s pretty good! In 2017, I’ll give Reed the projections of 47/15/54/.235 in 384 ABs with upside from there and I like the chances of him finding his groove by the 2nd half of the year and heading into 2018 as a breakout candidate.