Southern notes: Reed follows his own route

Brewers outfielder breaking out with Biloxi after bypassing Ole Miss

Michael Reed has five homers and 40 RBIs in 72 games for the Double-A Shuckers. (Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

By Guy Curtright / Special to MiLB.com | July 7, 2015 10:00 AM

Michael Reed didn't follow his father's athletic path or end up at his dad's college.

The Milwaukee Brewers are thankful for both.

Reed bypassed attending the University of Mississippi, where he had a football legacy, for an over-slot bonus of $500,000, and the fifth-round choice in the 2011 Draft is working on a breakout season with Biloxi.

The strong-armed right fielder started in the Southern League All-Star Game and had a .288 average and 22 stolen bases through 72 games while accumulating 22 extra-base hits and 40 RBIs.

Reed, 22, had also walked 37 times, giving him a .376 on-base percentage to go with his .434 slugging mark.

The Brewers' No. 17 prospect is having his best year so far, and there's a simple reason for it -- he's been able to stay healthy.

Reed had hamstring issues in 2013, then missed time last year with an oblique strain before playing through a stress reaction in his left foot.

"I put in a lot of work over the winter with a trainer and I think it has paid off," he said. "Sometimes you forget about working your soft tissue and small muscles. That is something we concentrated on."

Reed doesn't have the height or bulk of his father. Benton, who is 6-foot-5 and played at 265 pounds, was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 1986 out of the University of Mississippi and started three games at defensive end for the New England Patriots the next season.

"I stopped playing football after my sophomore year in high school," said the younger Reed, who carries 200 pounds on his six-foot frame. "I knew my future was baseball."

He looked like he was headed to his father's alma mater, though, until the Brewers convinced him otherwise.

"I wanted to get started in pro ball as long as the offer was there," said the graduate of Leander High School in Cedar Park, Texas.

Reed had always drawn a lot of walks and he led the Class A Advanced Florida State League with an on-base percentage of .396 last year. But his real breakout came this May, when he hit .380 with three homers, 17 RBIs and eight stolen bases in 23 games.

That was while the Shuckers were still wandering through the Southern League on an eventual 54-game road trip that didn't end until June 6, when MGM Park in Biloxi finally opened.

The Shuckers ended up winning the first-half South Division title anyway.

"It's nice to finally call some place home, but we really bonded on and off the field those first two months," he said. "The chemistry on this team is like no other team I've ever been on."

Milwaukee views Reed as a potential five-tool player, although the power has yet to come.

"I think the doubles will eventually become homers," the right-handed hitter said. "The Brewers want me to stay with my line-drive approach."

Milwaukee certainly likes his selectivity at the plate. Reed drew 71 walks in 2013 while in the Class A Midwest League and 78 last season with Brevard County.

"I've always had a good eye at the plate," he said. "I think it came naturally, and it's a big part of my success."

Although he didn't end up in the SEC, Reed finally is playing in Mississippi -- although at the opposite end of the state from Oxford.

"This ballpark is great and I've got a ton of family in the state," he said. "There has been someone here almost every series. It's been a lot of fun."

In brief

Moving up: Chattanooga won the North Division first-half title with four of Minnesota's top seven prospects, but none remained with the Lookouts by the Fourth of July. Shortstop Jorge Polanco, batting .301 with 14 stolen bases, was the most recent to leave, joining right-handed pitcher Jose Berrios at Triple-A Rochester. Center fielder Byron Buxton and third baseman Miguel Sano -- the Twins' top two prospects -- made the move all the way to Minnesota. Berrios, the Twins' No. 3 prospect, led the Southern League with eight victories and 92 strikeouts. Polanco is ranked as the No. 7 prospect for Minnesota.

Still streaking: Right-hander Steve Janas blanked Biloxi for 5 2/3 innings in his debut with Mississippi on July 3 to extend his scoreless streak to 28 2/3 frames. He allowed three hits, walked none and struck out three in the no-decision. Atlanta's No. 27 prospect was 5-0 with a 0.49 ERA in six starts for Class A Advanced Carolina but missed seven weeks after being shaken up in the Mudcats' bus crash in early May. Janas, 23, was a sixth-round pick by Atlanta in the 2013 Draft out of Kennesaw State University in Georgia.

Canada bound: Tennessee will be without center fielder Albert Almora Jr. and first baseman Dan Vogelbach for much of July as they play for Team USA at the Pan Am Games in Toronto (full roster). Almora, the Chicago Cubs' No. 3 prospect, was hitting .249, while No. 13 prospect Vogelbach had a .284 batting average. The Pan Am competition is July 10-19, but players left their Minor League teams over the Fourth of July weekend. The other Southern League players on Team USA are pitchers Brian Ellington of Jacksonville and Jake Barrett of Mobile.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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