When the Oakland A’s traded infielder Jurickson Profar to the Padres last week, they received catcher Austin Allen and a player to be named later. That PTBNL has now been named, and he’s outfield prospect Buddy Reed, the team announced Thursday. He does not require a spot on the 40-man roster at this time, and will be a non-roster invitee to spring training.
Reed is a switch-hitter who played last season in Double-A. He’s got some prospect stock, as a former 2nd-round pick from 2016. In particular, his calling card is his defense, where his extreme athleticism, excellent speed, and strong throwing arm make him a highly rated fielder. He’s played mostly CF in the pros, where he’s generally received positive marks on the available metrics.
At the plate, Reed is more of a work in progress. He had a breakout 2018 in High-A (145 wRC+), with some moderate power and on-base ability, plus 51 steals at a high success rate. He maintained the power and walks in Double-A this year, but his average dropped 100 points, leaving him with a subpar batting line. On the bright side, he’ll play next year at age 25 so there’s still time for further development and improvement.
Reed, 2019 AA: .228/.310/.388, 93 wRC+, 14 HR, 9.5% BB, 28.6% Ks, 23-for-31 SB
At the time of this trade announcement, he was ranked 25th on the Padres prospect list at MLB Pipeline. That’s not high on the list, but for a PTBNL to be ranked at all is better than nothing, especially considering San Diego has one of the most stacked farm systems in the sport. Here’s the scouting report from Pipeline:
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 40 | Run: 70 | Arm: 60 | Field: 65 | Overall: 45
One of the best all-around athletes in the 2016 Draft class, the Padres selected Reed with the 48th overall pick and signed him for slightly over $1 million. After struggling in his first full season, Reed went to the Australian Baseball League and rediscovered his swing. It led to a breakout 2018. Reed reached base consistently, and he wreaked havoc on the bases, swiping 51 bags between Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio. Reed earned his Double-A promotion after playing in the All-Star Futures Game at Nationals Park, but his transition to the level didn’t go smoothly and he continued to struggle with the bat in a return to the level in 2019. Left off the 40-man roster, he was sent to the A’s as the player to be named later in the Jurickson Profar deal after the Rule 5 Draft in December.
A switch-hitter, Reed has the potential to hit for both average and power, though he’s historically been better form the right side. Before the 2018 season, he made an adjustment, allowing him to be shorter to the ball with more extension after contact. But he’ll need to continue to cut down on the strikeouts. If he can add more contact to his game, he has plus-plus speed -- which translates on both sides of the ball.
Reed has a tall, athletic build that gives him the potential to do a lot of things well on the baseball field, but he still has gains to make as a hitter. If he can get back to a more refined approach and better swing mechanics, he has the tools to be an impact player. But questions linger as to whether his game, particularly his hitting, will translate at higher levels.
Over at FanGraphs, Reed ranked 26th on the team’s preseason prospect list. Here’s their report:
Scouting grades: Hit: 35/45 | Raw Power: 50/50 | Game Power: 30/35
Scouting grades: Run: 70/70 | Arm: 60/60 | Field: 60/70 | Overall: 40
Reed was a lightly-scouted multi-sport high school athlete in Maryland who also played hockey before he arrived at the University of Florida. Soon after he stepped on campus, scouts saw and become enamored with the enormous athletic potential he had. He still hasn’t quite tapped into it, at least on offense. Reed has 70 speed and defensive ability in center field, along with a 60 arm and average raw power. As a 6-foot-4, 210 pound athletic specimen, he’ll probably play forever. There’s some bat control and feel for oppo gap contact here, but Reed’s approach and feel for hitting is lacking, holding back his everyday potential. Most scouts project him as a good fourth outfielder in the Jake Marisnick mold.
That Marisnick comp came up again on Thursday, as Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle reported the following: “Scout tells me he thinks Buddy Reed could develop into a ‘Jake Marisnick type player’ and should benefit from change of scenery.”
As an extra point of interest, Reed was a college teammate of fellow 2016 draftee and now-A’s pitcher A.J. Puk.
As PTBNLs go, this is a nice pickup. Maybe he never pans out, but he’s certainly got intriguing skills and he could have a fairly high ceiling if he ever puts it all together. He’s a better lotto ticket than I was expecting to get as a second piece in this deal, and he’ll be fun to follow this year in the minor league box scores.
My knee-jerk reaction is that Oakland just reacquired Jameson Hannah, who was shipped out for Tanner Roark in July. Like Hannah, Reed is a CF who stands out foremost for his defense and speed. Both were taken at almost identical spots in the draft, high in the 2nd round — Reed 48th overall in 2016, and Hannah 50th in 2018. The comp isn’t perfect, and to be clear Hannah is unquestionably a higher-rated prospect at this moment, but for what it’s worth Reed has higher-rated raw tools across the board and an extra 5-7 inches in height.
The Profar trade was already a win for the A’s even before this announcement. They took a player who was hours away from being non-tendered and released for nothing, and turned him into a legit MLB-ready-ish catching prospect in Allen. Now they’ve made it two interesting names for free, which is the found-money equivalent of finding a $20 bill on the ground and then walking a block and finding another fiver on the next sidewalk.