I Have A Need, A Need for A.J. Reed
As I write this piece I have just been eliminated from the semifinals of my fantasy football dynasty league. It stinks to lose in the playoffs but I’m taking this one in stride. It doesn’t take long for me to turn my eye towards my true love—my 16 team dynasty league. Of course the league I am referring to is a baseball league because really that’s the only fantasy sport that matters.
This past season was a pretty solid one in my fantasy sports life as I was able to pull off the rare three-peat winning all of the baseball leagues I took part in. It took me six-years to accomplish the feat in my aforementioned dynasty league and to stay on top I will need to be diligent.
One the keys to sustaining and building a winner is making your minor league draft count. In my league anyone who is new to the ESPN player pool when the league re-launches after the two week maintenance period is fair game in our pre-season waiver draft. This season my number one target is A.J. Reed.
It can be tricky to decide whom to draft when you already have a good team. With top ten players at every position and a very solid pitching staff there are no glaring needs on my team but yet there are number of directions I could go with my pick. The reasons I have settled on Reed are many but undoubtedly one of the main ones is that power is very hard to find.
The 22-year-old Reed is a left handed power bat drafted by Houston and is coming off a truly monstrous year. Across two levels, A+ and AA, he was able to hit 34 dingers while knocking in 127 RBI. In doing so he was one of only two 30/100/.300 players in the minor leagues. While part of that production came in the hitter friendly Cal league the change to AA did very little to slow him down.
When you watch Reed hit a ball there is now doubt as to why it leaves the park so quickly, he’s a veritable giant at 6’4” and 240 lbs. however there is also a grace to his swing. There are few moving parts as he swings and his path to the ball is smooth and direct. The smooth swing has led to a lifetime average in the minor leagues of .324 helped in large part from his average of .340 last season.
One of the reasons why Reed isn’t just a good power hitter but is in fact just a good hitter is his ability to drive the ball to all fields. As the chart below shows his hits were very equitable to all fields and the spray chart shows the home runs were just as evenly distributed. His ability to hit for power and average is nearly unmatched in the minor leagues and is certainly the best among all first base prospects.
One other quality that sets Reed apart from the competition is the fact that he has yet to have to sell out any of his ability to hit for average in order to maintain his power. In the jump from A+ to AA last season his K rate went from 19% to 20.7%. Think of how impressive that is! He made just a 1.7% increase in K rate despite traversing what is generally accepted as the biggest talent gap in the minors.
When you have a good dynasty league team it is often you have to do what I am doing and pick towards the rear of the player pool for the upcoming season. This means that most of the big name prospects will be off the board but players like Reed, currently ranked 91st at MLB.com, may still be available.
First base prospects generally don’t get much love because of their lack of defensive use but for our fantasy purposes that doesn’t really matter. There are few impact bats in the minor leagues who could legitimately challenge for a 30 HR, 100 RBI season in the big leagues and I believe Reed is one. Many lists will say differently this spring but if you make Reed your target you will be picking a surefire contributor for the future.