Astros' Reed tops AL sluggers in AFL Hitting Challenge
SCOTTSDALE, AZ -- If you thought that A.J. Reed might have a natural advantage in all feats of strength, you weren't wrong. Reed, Houston's No. 5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, came out and put on a show in the Arizona Fall League's Bowman Hitting Challenge on Saturday.
Reed, who mashed 34 home runs combined between Class A Advanced Lancaster and Double-A Corpus Christi this season, finished with 1,600 points on Saturday, the highest score of any American League prospect. Two National League prospects outscored Reed, but the slugger said he enjoyed the event.
"It was a lot of fun," he said of the event. "I didn't know what to expect coming into it, and it was definitely something I've never done before with all the targets. That made it a little more interesting."
That's right: the challenge wasn't as simple as grip it and rip it. Home runs were worth 300 points down the line and 200 points in the alleys, and they increased to 400 points in left- and right-center field. Meanwhile, there were several targets scattered along the field of play that offered scoring opportunities.
Reed drilled two 400-point home runs. He also scored a 300-point shot off the Bowman card display along the foul line and 700 points for hitting the moving knockerball in the outfield. The Indiana native lost 200 points due to hitting four foul balls, and he said he didn't have much in the way of strategy.
"I was just going up and trying to hit home runs, treating it like a home run derby," Reed said. "If I hit some of the other targets out there, that's to my advantage. I just wanted to give the fans something to watch."
Reed, ranked the No. 91 overall prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, delivered an on-base percentage higher than .400 at both Lancaster and Corpus Christi, and he also hit better than .330 at both stops. The 22-year-old first baseman slugged .571 following his promotion to the upper-level Double-A Texas League.
And then, as if he hadn't accomplished enough, he came out to Arizona for some more.
"The year was great. It was a lot of fun," Reed said. "I'm just glad I got to enjoy it with a lot of really good teammates. To come out here and play is a great honor and I was really looking forward to it. When I'm out here, the biggest thing for me is working on my defense. I want to get better defensively."
The evening had a brief rain delay before Reed got to swing, and several of the players entertained each other in the dugout while waiting for play to resume. Throughout the night, they took turns teasing each other about their chances to hit, but Monday, they'll go back to competing against each other.
"These are a lot of guys you play against throughout the year, and some of them you already know," he said. "It was just fun to be out here and play with all of them. I think everybody had a good time."