From the amount we’ve talked about Buddy Reed the last few days, you’d think the outfielder was the Oakland A’s top prospect.
In reality he just clocked in at No. 20 on our Community Prospect List, but three games into the 2021 Cactus League schedule he’s already stolen the show each afternoon.
On Tuesday, Reed’s bat was the top highlight. He launched an opposite-field homer to break a tie in the 7th and final inning, sending the A’s to a 2-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
In the spring opener on Sunday, Reed made headlines on defense with his arm by throwing out a runner at the plate and almost nabbing another at third. Monday brought another outfield assist, this time at third base to erase a teammate’s error, and he also chipped in a homer but it was overshadowed by the A’s larger offensive barrage.
His latest dinger was more memorable, serving as the clutch blast that made the difference in the game. It came in his lone plate appearance, on a day in which his teammates combined for only three other hits.
Buddy's agenda:— Oakland A's (@Athletics) March 2, 2021
Tuesday: HR pic.twitter.com/trKkv10qLL
Despite what today might suggest, the reason Reed is so low on the A’s prospect list is his bat. He still hasn’t found much success at the plate in the minors, with strikeouts being a particular problem, but it’s been a long time since a minor league game was played so it will be interesting to see how he fares this summer entering age 26. With his elite defense, he only needs to hit a little bit in order to provide serious value.
Reed isn’t currently on the 40-man roster, and at the moment there’s no reason to expect he’ll be part of the Opening Day conversation. Even with his latest fireworks in Arizona, he’ll surely need more time to develop his bat down on the farm. But an early spring line of 2-for-5 with two homers is certainly a nice start along that path.
Reed’s top tool is actually his speed, but he didn’t get to show that off Tuesday during his slow trot around the bags. Instead, a couple of his teammates provided the wheels and hustle.
The A’s scored right away in the 1st inning. Tony Kemp led off the game with a single, then stole second base. He was pushed to third when a pair of teammates got hit by pitches, and then rather than waiting around to be knocked in he took care of it himself by scoring on a wild pitch.
That uncorking was courtesy of former A’s pitcher Josh Lindblom, who started the game for Milwaukee. Nice to see the pesky Kemp already in full form!
In the 3rd inning, Oakland hit a triple, and this time it wasn’t a lost-in-the-sun “hit” that was really an error, but rather a genuine gapper to the wall hit by a burner on the basepaths. Ramon Laureano did the honors.
Unfortunately the A’s couldn’t bring Laureano home, but that’s the beauty of spring training. We can enjoy the majesty of a legit triple without worrying about the game result.
The A’s pitched seven innings, and four of them were by a pair of sleepers who are annual mainstays in our Community Prospect List rankings. Parker Dunshee drew the start and tossed two scoreless frames, and Brian Howard later worked two more in relief.
Dunshee/Howard: 4 ip, 0 runs, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 2 hits
But the top performance came from another reliever, Miguel Romero, himself fighting for a backend spot on our CPL and (more importantly) also auditioning for a role in Oakland’s bullpen sometime this season. He struck out MLB hitters Derek Fisher, Luke Maile, and Avisail Garcia, though he did hit Kolten Wong with a pitch along the way.
On the down side, fireballer Wandisson Charles (about to wrap up the No. 21 spot on our CPL) ran into some trouble in the 4th. The good news is that none of it came from walks, which have been the right-hander’s biggest issue in the past as he learns to harness his triple-digit heater. And what’s more, the biggest blow was a double by Christian Yelich, a former MVP, and that’s always excusable. Otherwise it was four grounders (one got through) and a line-drive single (by Orlando Arcia, another solid MLB hitter).
Finally, there was a spring debut from one of the 10 prospects in “mini-camp” who are working out as part of the MLB bubble — right-hander Zach Jackson, age 26, who was selected from the Blue Jays in December in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. As of 2017 he was operating with a hard curveball and a mid-90s fastball, both rated as plus pitches, and since then he’s put up an impressive (and healthy) track record in the minors up through Triple-A.
Unfortunately Jackson had a rocky day on the mound, walking the bases loaded while protecting a one-run lead in the final inning of the game, but he got out of the jam to technically earn a save. Note that, despite being part of the Rule 5 draft, Jackson does not need to make the MLB roster. He was part of the Triple-A phase, which has different requirements that are easier to satisfy and don’t require making the majors.
See you tomorrow for another road game, against the Rockies!