Hooks' Reed belts first Double-A homer
After lighting up the California League, A.J. Reed's power had been quiet through his first four Texas League games.
The switch flipped on Saturday night.
The Astros' 10th-ranked prospect slugged his first Double-A homer and drove in five runs to power Corpus Christi to a 12-4 thumping of Frisco, 12-4 at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
"It's about time," Reed remembered joking to his teammates after the three-run blast in the eighth inning.
Before his promotion, the 22-year-old first baseman posted a California League-leading .346/.449/.638 slash line with 23 homers and 81 RBIs, both of which also topped the circuit. He has his name all over the Minor League milestones list with a cycle, a three-homer, nine-RBI game and being part of a triple play.
"Just really working on my plate discipline, try not to strike out as much, take walks, get a good pitch to drive, not swing at borderline pitches and if a pitcher makes a mistake, not missing it," Reed said. "So far this year, I've done a pretty good job of that, just have to continue to do that."
Reed took a couple days to adjust to Texas League pitching, going 4-for-15 with one extra-base hit in his first four games with the Hooks.
"It's different here, ballparks are different, so you have to make adjustments. It just took a couple games for that to happen," he said. "The pitches aren't out over the plate as much, you have to be a little more selective. Pitchers aren't going to make many mistakes, so that's going to happen the further you go up and just can't miss that pitch that they give you to hit."
Reed was hitless in his first four plate appearances Saturday but made his outs productive ones with two sacrifice flies. Both came on the first pitch he saw.
"With runners in scoring position, I'm looking to get on something early, I want to be aggressive. If I get a pitch up, I'm looking to swing at it, drive it in the outfield somewhere," Reed said. "The first one, I didn't really hit it that well, but I thought it might have a chance with the wind today out here. But [left fielder Nick Williams] made a pretty good catch at the track and ended up being a sac fly, so we'll take the run either way."
In the eighth, Reed took a 2-0 offering from reliever Jose Monegro to center field for his 24th homer of the season, tying Double-A Chattanooga's Adam Brett Walker II for the Minor League lead.
"We were up big already and I had a 2-0 count, so I was just looking for a fastball up," Reed explained. "I got one out over the plate and put a good swing on it. I just try to hit it hard. ... Definitely excited to get it out of the way.
"[Leading the Minors] brings good recognition to the team that I'm playing for and the organization. I'm just trying to go out there and hit it hard and just trying to hit as many as I can."
Since the Astros selected Reed in the second round of the 2014 Draft, the University of Kentucky product has shot through the Minors, advancing four levels in only two years.
"Obviously, everybody who is playing professional baseball wants to get to the big leagues as fast as possible, so I just have to keep working on getting better, working on my swing, working on my defense," he said. "Just let [the Astros] make their decisions when they know that I'm ready. Just keep playing well and playing hard."
Reed wasn't the only one with productive outs Saturday as Frisco's Luis Mendez drove in two runs with a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
"I've never been in a game where that's happened," Reed said. "That was just good hustle by [Luis Marte]. He could've just jogged to third, being that it was a 10-run lead. but he kept hustling and made it home."
Reed's big night at the plate cam in support of Astros No. 4 prospect Michael Feliz (3-2), who allowed a run on three hits and two walks while striking out seven in six innings. Aaron West recorded his second save, despite yielding three runs on four hits and a walk with three punchouts over the final three frames.
"He did a really good job, threw a lot of strikes, kept the ball down, mixed his pitches well, working ahead," Reed said of Feliz. "So anytime you can do that and keep soft contact coming, then you're going to do just fine, especially at this level; the defense is a lot better. Just got to not be afraid to pitch to contact, and he did that tonight."
Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan.