San Diego Padres outfield prospect Buddy Reed has turned a corner this season but proceed with caution.
Buddy Reed is opening eyes down on the farm with the Lake Elsinore Storm. The 23-year-old San Diego Padres prospect has already racked up two awards, the California League Player of the Month for April and Player of the Week honors for the week of April 22nd.
Selected in the second round of the 2016 draft, Reed brought a number of raw skills to the organization, most notably, speed. Unfortunately, Reed managed to hit just .254 with Tri-City and .234 with Fort Wayne over his first two seasons. With a large amount of outfield depth, he began to fade into an after-thought.
This season, however, there is a new chapter in Buddy Reed’s story. The former Florida Gator is posting a slash line of .335/.366/.545/.911 through 40 games with the Storm. He has already mashed six home runs, tying his career-high for a season. His gap ability has also been on full display, recording 13 doubles and two triples in 167 at-bats.
Reed has 10 games with at least three hits, including a 4-5 outing on April 17th where he hit two doubles and two home runs (12 total bases). His 19 stolen bases are already a career-high, six of which came in two games.
Remain cautious when getting excited about Buddy Reed.
While it’s been fun to watch Reed find success, there are some red flags. He’s 23 years old and in
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A ball. He should be hitting the ball at his age, facing younger, less experienced pitchers.
Reed’s strikeout rate is down a tick, dropping from 28% (2017) to just under 26% this year. However, his walk rate has also taken a dip. In fact, Reed’s walk rate has fallen in each season, going from 9.5% to 6.6% to 4.1% in 2018.
There’s no rule, though, that says Reed won’t find success at higher levels because he is a little older than his peers. The late-bloomer has made a number of adjustments which are paying off tremendously in 2018. Here’s what Lake Elsinore hitting coach Doug Banks had to say about Reed’s mechanics.
"“He’s just getting into a better foundation, a better base,” said Storm hitting coach Doug Banks, who was with Reed last year in the Midwest League. “He’s getting into his legs. His swing is not as long. He’s cutting down the barrel length in his turn and getting more direct to the ball and allowing that power to play – the leverage and the length that he has in his arms and legs – to create that natural easy power that he has."
The turnaround began during the offseason in Australia. Playing for the Canberra Cavalry, Reed hit .326 with 10 home runs, eight doubles, and four triples. He hasn’t slowed down since returning to the United States.
As of May 23rd, Reed ranks third in the California League in hits (56), tied-third in doubles (13), tied-seventh in HR (6), first in total bases (91), fourth in batting average (.335), and tied-fifth in OPS (.911). He’s hitting .381 over his last 10 games.
The outfield is crowded at every level of the Padres’ system. The major league squad has about eight outfielders vying for four (maybe five) spots. The road ahead for Reed is as congested as Los Angeles at rush hour, however, he’s starting to flash some of the tools that led the Padres to make his a second-round draft pick.