A.J. Reed was drafted out of Kentucky with the 42nd pick by the Houston Astros in this past year's draft. After being sent to Tri-City and dominating it for about a month, he was promoted to Quad Cities and has already racked up four homers, including a walk-off in his first game. Before the River Bandits played the Beloit Snappers I talked with A.J. Reed outside the clubhouse for several minutes. Here's how the conversation went.
You were drafted by the Mets when you came out of high school. What was that experience like? Was it any different from the one you had now?
In high school, I went in the 25th round, it was going to take a lot of money to go out of high school and pass up college.
How much did they offer you?
$300,000, so it wasn't too hard of a decision to go to school and get better. I didn't think I was ready for it.
How much did you get [from the Astros]?
You won a lot of awards in college-Golden Spikes, SEC player of the year. Which one was the best recognition for what you did?
I mean, the Golden Spikes is the most well-known in college baseball, so I think that's the one that labels it as the year that I had. They're all nice, and really good honors, it's just nice that I have all the recognition.
You went to L.A. for the Golden Spikes award and were out for a few days. Were you injured? Just taking time to relax?
I just had a little tweak in my hammy, so I took a couple days off. It's fine now.
A lot of the awards you won had you listed as a DH. How's your defense at first base? Do you think you can stick there?
I didn't play first base much in school, so I'm still getting the feel for it. I played first base my sophomore year a lot, so taking a year off, you don't do quite as good a job, so I'm still trying to get back to it, read the ball well, get comfortable there.
You were a pitcher and a hitter (at Kentucky), so has focusing on just hitting helped you?
It gives me a lot more time to focus just on hitting, so it's a little bit of a load off my mind that I don't have to work at pitching anymore. It works out for me.
Was it a difficult decision, choosing hitting over pitching?
No, I didn't have to decide, the Astros made it for me.
Have you coaches talked to you about putting you in as a reliever, like Adam Dunn did a couple nights ago?
I'm sure if we get a game like that, I'll think about it, but...who knows.
What areas of your hitting are you focusing on improving the most?
I just want to make consistent, hard contact, work the whole field. Baseball is becoming a numbers game, everybody's playing shifts, so I want to be able to beat that, not just be a pull hitter, but work the whole field.
Has the Astros' hitting philosophy especially affected you?
For the most part, right now they're letting us do our own thing, especially since it's our first year. I assume when I go to instructs and spring training they'll start tweaking things.
Here you've been showing off the same power, you already hit four home runs [at Quad Cities], basically the same as Kentucky. Is the level of play different?
I feel like here the pitching is kind of the same as what I saw at school. Being in the SEC, there are a lot of good pitchers there that have pretty good control of what they're throwing, so it's just about getting a good pitch to hit.
You were a good pitcher at Kentucky and also in the Cape Cod League, so do you think you could survive as a pitcher down here?
I don't know, because I haven't pitched in months, so I don't know it would feel after all this time. But if I had a little bit of time (to prepare), sure, I could throw again.
Bret Booth is here, and he was a big rival at Alabama, and you're from Kentucky, so how has that been like, having him as a teammate?
It's fun, and I knew some of the guys from Alabama from summer ball, so we know some guys in common and just talked about that a bit.
Anyone else you played with, against, at any time that's in Quad Cities?
I played against (Thomas) Lindauer in high school, so I've met him too.
Is he good at defense? I know he's a shortstop, I just want to know if he's any good.
Yeah, he's pretty good. He makes the plays.
You had George Springer here a few days ago. What was that like, having a major league player come down here?
It was cool He kinda just told us what to expect at the next levels, what we need to do to get better and better. He was a real nice guy and talked to us. He didn't try to act any better than we are.
Do you think you can make it?
If I did well, hopefully they'll call me up to the next level soon. I figure I'll be here the rest of the year and somewhere else next year.
You'll probably be going to Lancaster, and Lancaster just loves power hitters. What are you going to try to do there?
I'm going to try not to let the conditions affect me. I'm going to try to get my head up and stick with the same approach, hit the ball to all fields and let the home runs come.
Do you usually hit the ball to right, left, center?
Usually I work from left-center to right-center most of the time.
What do you like about the Quad Cities ballpark?
It's a nice park. Usually we get big crowds here, and they love the team, so it's a fun place to play in. We've got the Ferris wheel and everything, which is a good attraction and it's close to home, so I feel a little bit more comfortable.
Who are the best players on the team, who can get [to the Majors] soon?
J.D. Davis is a really good hitter, came up a little bit before I did. (Michael) Feliz, he's the top prospect on the team. We've got good players, everyone's definitely got a chance.
How about at Tri-City? Anyone who really stuck out to you?
We've got Fisher there...we've got a catcher, Jamie Ritchie, who's doing really well. It's all about opportunity and what you do with it.