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

(Continued)

LEXINGTON, KY. —

Beginnings

Anyone who saw Reed play at South knew he could be special. Two-way players are common at the high school level, but the degree to which Reed succeeded turned heads.

Leading a gifted Braves team from 2008-11, Reed finished his South career with a career average of .425 with 41 home runs and 150 RBI. On the mound, he was 26-10 with a 1.80 ERA with 390 strikeouts against just 70 walks. Reed drew plenty of notice coming out of South and was drafted by the New York Mets in the 25th round of the 2011 MLB Draft.

Reed can draw parallels to his South experience — particularly his senior season when  with the season he’s enjoyed so far at Kentucky.

“It’s kind of similar, but doing it at this level, I feel it’s more of an accomplishment for myself. With the level we’re winning at — being in the best conference in baseball — it’s a lot of fun,” Reed said.

Reed still has regular contact with Terre Haute friends and his former coaches at South, including Braves head coach Kyle Kraemer and former South assistant Shane Abrell, now the athletic director at Terre Haute North.

“I talk to someone different back home everyday. I talk to my high school coaches everyday. They’re really following me, especially with it being a draft year, they’re asking what’s the word? It’s too early to tell, but I’m doing everything I can to get my name out there,” Reed said.

He got that name out there early on at Kentucky as he elected to hone his craft with three years in college baseball’s toughest conference. Reed hit .300 and had a 2.52 ERA in a relief role for the Wildcats as a freshman in 2012, but he didn’t display the power he had at South as he had just four home runs. A year of adjustment to college baseball’s deadened bats undoubtedly played a role.

Reed hit for more power in 2013. He slugged 13 home runs and had 52 RBI, good enough for him to be named All-SEC first team as a designated hitter. He joined UK’s rotation for the first time and had a 2-8 record with a 4.04 ERA. Opponents hit .301 against him.

It was a fine season and it brought several preseason honors to Reed, primarily for his performance at the plate. He was one of 50 players named to the Golden Spikes Award watch list (akin to football’s Heisman Trophy), was a preseason All-American by choice of three different publications, and was named to Baseball America’s preseason top 100 before he threw a pitch or swung a bat this season.

The honors were great, but Reed knew he needed to do more to build on his 2013 season. It started with conditioning.

 

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