No matter what the rest of the year holds for Buddy Reed, the San Diego Padres prospect can say one thing for sure.
"I'm comfortable with my swing [and] where it's at," he said.
That's no small feat for Reed, a former University of Florida star who didn't start playing baseball until he was a junior in high school. A hockey player growing up in the Bronx, Reed went out for baseball for fun.
That hobby quickly turned into real interest. He said by the time he was a senior, he was getting looks from colleges to play both sports. He eventually chose the Gators, which led him to hang up his skates and hold onto a bat for good. And while he blossomed in the Southeastern Conference, his swing never was a finished product.
"I didn't really have a comfortable swing," he said. "They were always changing it, and I had to go in with an open mind."
That continued to be a work in progress even after being picked by the Padres in the second round of the 2016 Draft. It wasn't until after he refined both an approach and a swing did he start progressing through the system.
Always aggressive at the plate, Reed said he's had to learn to find a middle ground between dialing back that aggression and not passing up pitches in his zone.
"I was always on the aggressive side -- I still am," said the Padres' No. 14 prospect. "It's moreso for me getting my pitch and not missing it. I'm not going to say I'm not going to swing at the first pitch, but at the same time, I have to stay in my zone and not swing at the pitcher's pitch."
Video: Sod Poodles' Reed swats solo shot
Offseason work with a coach in Florida has helped level that swing out and be "more on plane with the baseball," he said.
In his first full season at Double-A Amarillo, he's struggling with a .205 average, but he's among the league leaders with seven home runs to go along with 17 RBIs. In Monday's game against Midland, he had four hits -- including a double and a homer -- and now has six hits in his last 10 at-bats.
He has a fixed swing to thank, but also a trip to Australia two winters ago. After his first full season was cut short by an injury, the Padres wanted him to get a few more at-bats, so he played in the Australian Baseball League. Over 50 at-bats he hit .373 with nine home runs, and said he came back with an improved mind-set.
He hit .324 at Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore before earning a promotion to Double-A last year. And that's where he started to shine with a comfortable swing and mind-set to keep moving up in the organization.
"I was just free. I didn't have to worry about the result or the outcome," he said of his time in Australia. "At the end of the day, it's a baseball game and we're so blessed to come out here and play. … For me, right now, it' just living in that moment, being present, and having fun."
Still hitting: Frisco's Charles Leblanc had his league-high 12-game hitting streak come to an end last week, but he's still off to one of the best starts in the Texas League. The 22-year-old, picked in the fourth round by the Texas Rangers in 2016, is making his Double-A debut this season, and it hasn't slowed him down. He's hitting .314, third in the league, after 34 games.
Next challenge: Tulsa right-hander Mitchell White showed the Los Angeles Dodgers enough to get an early promotion this year. Through seven starts, White, ranked eighth in the Dodgers system, had a 2.10 ERA with 37 strikeouts over seven starts before being promoted to Triple-A on May 14.
More power: A year after setting a club record for home runs, the Tulsa Drillers are at it again. Their 51 long balls through Tuesday are the most in Double-A, and they have three players ranking in the top five of the league leaders. Zach Reks leads with nine home runs, while Gavin Lux has eight and Cody Thomas has seven. Those three are leading the Drillers' charge to top last year's total of 184 dingers, which also led all of Double-A.