It's a sibling rivalry that blossomed on high school fields in Southern California -- one that Austin Reed
and Addison Reed hope eventually flourishes in Chicago.
Austin, a relief pitcher with the Peoria Chiefs, and his brother Addison, current closer for the Chicago White Sox, were both drafted on the same day in 2010. Addison was taken in the third round by the White Sox; Austin went nine rounds later to the Cubs.
"My brother and I have talked about that, pitching against each other in a Cubs-White Sox game," Austin said. "We hope it happens one day. That would be a great rivalry series for us. We were drafted on the same day, two Chicago teams. It couldn't have worked any better."
According to Austin, the rivalry with Addison flamed up in high school.
"We've always been very competitive," Austin said. "He was a senior in high school when I was a freshman. We actually went to different high schools, just so we could compete against each other. He went to Los Osos High School, and I went to Rancho Cucamonga. I went 0-for-2 against him in my career, so he has me in that edge."
Austin is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-hander. He's 3-4, with a 3.83 ERA and hasn't given up a run in his last five appearances.
Although they are competitive, Austin said he and Addison also help each other out.
"After he pitches or I pitch, we send each other texts," Austin said. "We call each other a lot and talk about how it's going. He gives me insights about how to pitch to hitters, and just to go after them. It's an advantage to have a brother in the big leagues. He's a great resource."
Addison and Austin were expected to be drafted higher than their final position, but somehow word spread that bothd had plans to attend San Diego State.
"Everybody thought I was going to San Diego State," Austin said. "I don't know how that got out there. I guess they thought my brother was going to go back for his senior year, and I was going to go there so we could play together. I never said that. I always wanted to play professional baseball."
Each of the Reed brothers is relatively new to pitching.
"I didn't start pitching until late in my junior year," Austin said. "My brother didn't start pitching until he was a senior in high school. I think it's an advantage that my arm is fresh, because I haven't pitched my whole life. I've only pitched three and a half years.
"I'm learning every day. [Peoria pitching coach] Ron Villone has helped me tremendously, getting the ball in the zone, adding a couple of ticks to my velocity, which is working on my mechanics. He's been a huge help."
"Austin is a great young man," Villone said. "He works hard. He's got a great live arm. He's starting to do some things to use him arm positively, which is pitch with command."
Austin was a starting pitcher last season, but he hopes he has found a home coming out of the bullpen.
"I would one day like to be a closer, just like my brother," Austin said. "That would be perfect for me. Right now, I come in any part of the game -- the sixth, the ninth -- and do my job.
"Last year was tough, but I learned a lot from starting. It got my arm in shape. Now I'm in the bullpen, and I'm loving it."
Villone said Austin's role hasn't been determined.
"I don't think his role is going to be determined so much by his season numbers or how he's throwing -- it's how he progresses in getting the whole game," Villone said. "Here in [Class A], it's a good challenge. It's the first time guys have played for a whole season. You start moving up levels, guys know a little bit more. They understand the game quicker. They understand that you can get a lot more outs by getting ground balls. Austin is buying into that."
Austin has already gotten an indication of the intensity of the Cubs-White Sox rivalry.
"I went up to Chicago during the Midwest League All-Star break," he recalled. "I stayed with [Addison] in his apartment for three days. That was a pretty cool experience. I went to U.S. Cellular for three games, and they were playing the Cubs. It was crazy."
Rare feat: Javier Baez, the Chicago Cubs' No. 1 pick in the 2011 Draft, pulled off an accomplishment that only four Minor Leagues have done in 25 seasons of play at South Bend's Coveleski Stadium: He homered to straightaway center field. At Coveleski Stadium, the center-field batter's backdrop is a structure that houses the batting cages, standing 30-feet tall and 405 feet from home plate. It's been estimated that a ball clearing this center-field "Green Monster" has to travel at least 450 feet. The only other Minor Leaguers to do so were former South Bend players Jeff Leifer (1996), John Adams (1997) and Brad Miller (2007).
Power debut: Kennys Vargas put on a power display in his Beloit Snappers debut. Vargas, coming off a 50-day suspension for using a banned substance, belted two homers in a 3-0 victory against Great Lakes. Vargas was with Elizabethton of the Appalachian League when the suspension started. Because a suspension must be served with the team on which the infraction occurred, Vargas had to wait for the short-season league to start before finishing out the final 32 games of his suspension.
Marathon game: Pitching dominated Sunday's game between the Burlington Bees and West Michigan WhiteCaps. The Bees eked out a 1-0 victory in 13 innings in a game that lasted four hours. Burlington pitchers combined for 18 strikeouts. West Michigan pitchers had thrown a total of 21 consecutive scoreless innings against Burlington before the Bees scored their game-winner.