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Analysis White Sox

White Sox: Addition of A.J. Reed is Worthwhile Low-Risk Gamble

Andrew Joseph Reed was the best player in program history at Terre Haute South Vigo High School in Terre Haute, Indiana. A.J. hit .425 with 41 homers and 150 RBI in his career for the Braves. The high school consists of roughly 2,000 students and scouts and evaluators flocked to campus back in 2011 on a regular basis. Reed was also a dominant pitcher in high school and was drafted in the 25th round of the 2011 draft by the New York Mets. He ultimately decided to uphold his commitment to the University of Kentucky and joined the Wildcats as a two-way player.

At 26-years-old, the left-handed hitting slugger finds himself in a much different situation. He was designated for assignment by the only organization he’s ever known last week and his status was in limbo until Monday when the Chicago White Sox claimed him on waivers.

It was announced on the official press release from the organization that Reed would be sent to Triple-A Charlotte in the International League to continue his season. BB&T Ballpark in the Queen City has been a launching pad this season and could be seen as a way for Reed to get back on track. The slugger has struggled in 225 plate appearances with the Round Rock Express in 2019. He has 12 homers but sports a triple slash of just .224/.329/.469 with a 90 wRC+. The 6’4″ 240 pounder has a lifetime line of .260/.351/.517 with 89 homers at the AAA level. Reed will definitely take up a spot on the White Sox’s clogged 40-man roster but reports of his future in Charlotte appear to be premature.

It’s not a surprise that the organization has been interested in Reed’s services for awhile and it’s even less of a surprise that a Jeff Luhnow ran operation overvalued his worth in trade discussions. The White Sox have often been fond of adding former highly rated prospects for cheap and this acquisition cost fits that description rather aptly. The Astros have also been known to be tough to deal with in trade talks and they’ve done a great job of choosing which of their highly regarded players to dispose of for their benefit.

Highly Regarded Prospect Status

A.J. Reed was the 42nd overall pick in the 2014 major league baseball draft. He was a top 30 draft prospect for most publications and MLBPipeline ranked him 30th on their list. The publication noted Reed possessed “left-handed power that is difficult to find” and also lauded his defense at first base while touting his “strong arm at the position”. The Indiana native hit .336/.476/.735 as a junior for the Wildcats with 23 homers. He was one of the best two-way players in the country and was named SEC Player of the Year as well as winning the Golden Spikes Award. A.J. was also named to the Freshman All-American Team in his first year in Lexington.

Reed spent many years on top 100 prospect lists throughout the industry and peaked at #11 overall in the sport on Baseball America’s record. The slugger started mashing immediately and posted a 174 wRC+ in Low-A before advancing to High-A his first season. Reed began the 2015 campaign back in High-A where he smashed 23 homers and posted a wOBA of .464 before earning a promotion to Double-A. The baseball slaughtering continued with 11 dingers and a 168 wRC+ in 237 plate appearances.

The 2016 season was the beginning of his time share in Triple-A. The first baseman is a career .260/.351/.517 hitter in AAA with 89 home runs. Reed posted a 124 wRC+ with 34 homers back in 2017. In 2018, he hit .255/.344/.506 with a 117 wRC+ and 28 more long balls. 2019 has been a struggle for him however. In 225 plate appearances, the lefty hit .224/.329/.469 good for a 90 wRC+. He’s still walking and hitting for power but his strikeout rate has climbed and he’s become almost unplayable against southpaws.

Odd Roster Fit in Chicago

Reed is now occupying a spot on Chicago’s 40-man roster and he’ll be joining the White Sox in Oakland for their series on Friday according to Rick Semmler of Indiana’s WTHI. His addition can be construed as an odd one at this particular time with veteran Jose Abreu playing first base most days and the assumption of more playing time being cleared for top catching prospect Zack Collins. After struggling in 2019, outfielder Daniel Palka was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte prior to the All Star festivities commencing in Cleveland this week.

With catcher Welington Castillo‘s imminent return on the horizon, Palka’s demotion seemed to signal a potential change in playing time restrictions for Collins. With Castillo on the the roster, the former 10th overall pick could be deployed more as a first baseman and used as a designated hitter without the pre-emptive need to catch on a whim. The former Miami Hurricanes’ standout may stay on the roster for now, but it’ll be tough to roster he and Reed once Castillo is ready for a return.

The move in a vacuum makes a lot of sense for the Pale Hose. Throwing a waiver claim in for a player that was once as highly regarded as Reed was is a no brainer. It’s an interesting time for this particular move but that is beyond the organization’s control. Players become available at random times and interested clubs must act accordingly. These are moves that franchises not attempting to win should make.

While the White Sox as an organization have been fond of players with waning prospect shine in the past, it’s actually something that they haven’t focused on critically enough over the course of this current rebuilding effort. Too many plate appearances have been wasted on the likes of Adam Engel, Yolmer Sanchez and others. Opportunity has been ripe for cycling through options to find silver linings that ultimately add to Hahn’s critical mass. This particular addition could alter plans and signal some collateral damage for some. It’s a worthwhile gamble to take on a once talented player at this stage of the club’s evolution though.

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2 comments on “White Sox: Addition of A.J. Reed is Worthwhile Low-Risk Gamble

  1. phil de giulio

    We need outfield, Tilson / Cordell neither can hit or throw.

  2. Worth it I think. Need a bat to take Alonso spot and Collins needs time. I would rather him be a power bat catcher then a avg dh. I think his confidence is rattled to with McCann doing so well and zelby nipping at his heals.
    If a package trade comes up-trade Collins get some depth at another position. People still like him but his stock is gonna go down.
    While we are at it. Get rid of Wellington too. You don’t need him on a team with youngsters. He is proof that it’s ok to cheat in mlb.

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