News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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April 20, 2014

Immense power: A leaner A.J. Reed making play as elite prospect

Terre Haute South grad leads NCAA with 15 home runs

LEXINGTON, KY. — If you were to construct the ideal draftable baseball player, what attributes would you conjure up?

Starting with the basics, you’d want to be left-handed, preferably a left-handed pitcher who can locate three different pitches, but also crank up the gas.

That attribute alone would make many Major League Baseball teams drool, but if you wanted to get greedy, why not add prodigious power at the plate and the ability to hit to all fields?

This player is no pipe dream. He plies his trade at the University of Kentucky and Terre Haute is his hometown. He’s A.J. Reed, he’s draft eligible, and right now, the baseball world is his oyster.

Reed took his talents to Kentucky and the Southeastern Conference in 2011 and hasn’t looked back in the baseball sense. After a standout career at Terre Haute South — he was Indiana’s Player of the Year in 2011 — area fans had an idea of the wind Kentucky was sowing when it coaxed Reed to Lexington, Ky.

This year? The SEC has reaped the whirlwind.

How good has Reed been? Entering Kentucky’s weekend series at Texas A&M, Reed co-led the NCAA in home runs with 14. Reed has more home runs than 179 other teams have slugged at the Division I level. Reed hit at least one home run in five consecutive SEC games, a streak stopped last Sunday against Missouri.

Reed’s power display would be impressive enough on its own, but Reed hasn’t stopped there. Entering weekend play, Reed led the SEC in home runs (14), slugging (.754), on-base percentage (.486), RBI (48), total bases (104) and victories (seven). His 15th home run Saturday gave Reed the NCAA lead  all to himself.

Yes you read that last bit correctly. Reed is also Kentucky’s Friday night pitching ace. He’s one of the best two-way players to emerge out of the SEC in the last two decades. Among his honors, he was named the Midseason National Player Of The Year by Perfect Game USA. He’s helped the Wildcats achieve a 24-13 record and earn a lofty 11th spot in college baseball’s RPI.

“Twitter is blowing up and you’ve got guys from back home texting me. It’s fun for everyone to be excited about it, but at the end of the day, I have to come out here and help us win,” Reed said after Kentucky’s win against Missouri on April 12.

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Tribune-Star/Joseph C. Garza 55 on the stop: Indiana State's Connor Underwood tackles North Dakota State's Sam Ojuri during the Sycamores' loss to the Bison on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

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Tribune-Star/Bob PoynterOuch: Defending Men's City Chamion Tom Jones reacts to a missed putt on the 6th hole at Rea Park Saturday morning. Jones is seeking his 9th Men's title.

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Tribune-Star/Jim Avelis Records: Near perfect weather contributed to record attendance at racetracks around the state, including the Action Track, seen here.

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