Reed reveling in eye-opening spring for A's

No. 23 prospect racks up feats in first four Cactus League games

March 4th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After dazzling with his arm and bat through the A’s first three Cactus League games, decided to show what he can do with his legs on Wednesday.

Reed, Oakland’s No. 23 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, continued his impressive spring in a 10-7 loss to the Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Getting the start in center field, Reed’s hustle on the basepaths was on display in the second inning. After reaching second base on a fly ball that was dropped in center, Reed stole third base, which positioned him to score on Matt Olson’s grounder that kicked off the glove of C.J. Cron near first base.

Reed has been good for at least one eye-opening play per game this spring, accumulating two home runs, three RBIs and two outfield assists. Here’s a look back at those feats:

Sunday vs. Dodgers: Reed nabbed Matt Beaty at home plate in the second inning with a spectacular throw from right field.

Monday vs. Reds: Playing center field, Reed fired a laser to third base for an easy assist in the sixth inning. In the bottom of the frame, he drove a first-pitch fastball to right-center field for a two-run homer.

Tuesday at Brewers: The switch-hitting Reed went opposite field in the seventh, muscling up a pitch from Brewers reliever Thomas Jankins and driving it well up the berm beyond the left-field wall for a go-ahead solo shot that sealed the A’s victory.

A’s manager Bob Melvin smiled when Reed’s name came up during a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday. He knew it was only a matter of time before the questions regarding Reed's chances of making the Opening Day roster started coming his way.

“I knew that question was going to come up at some point in time,” Melvin said. “There are several guys in front of him [on the depth chart]. But look, I don’t want to spoil the party here. It’s all about performance. He continues to play well, both offensively and defensively, so I’m not going to sit here and tell you that nobody has a chance to make this team no matter what they do.

“There are certainly some guys ahead of him. But this is really an exciting time for him. My guess is he’s waking up in a really good mood. This is probably as much fun as he’s ever had playing baseball, and he should embrace it.”

There might be something to the benefits often attributed to a change of scenery. Reed, who joined the A’s in December 2019 as the player to be named in a trade that sent Jurickson Profar to San Diego, appeared stuck in the Padres' system. He hit a wall at the Double-A level, hitting .228.

Though no Minor League games were played in 2020, Reed said he grew as a player while spending time with other A’s Minor Leaguers as a participant at the A’s alternate training site in San Jose last summer. The 25-year-old used the experience as an opportunity to work on multiple facets of his game, from hitting and defense to a change in his mindset to “be more loose” and rely on the natural tools that made him a star at the University of Florida and high-profile prospect early on in San Diego.

“He’s a great athlete. We saw that last year,” Melvin said. “He’s terrific in the outfield, throws well and runs great. The other parts were ahead of his bat, and maybe he’s made some adjustments, where he’s doing things differently. All he has to do is put the ball in play with his speed. Maybe he’s just developing a little bit later with the bat.”

The open spots on the A’s roster are scarce, especially in an outfield that sees all three primary starters from last year’s club returning. However, with a couple of outfielders yet to play in games this spring -- Ka’ai Tom is dealing with an oblique injury and Luis Barrera arrived late to camp due to visa issues -- Reed is receiving much more playing time than was expected. More performances like the ones he has turned in through four games should only help his chances.

Irvin debuts

Cole Irvin, whom the A’s acquired in January in a trade with the Phillies, drew his first spring start Wednesday and made a good first impression. The left-hander allowed just one hit and struck out a batter over two scoreless innings.

A starter for most of his professional career, Irvin saw some time as a reliever in the Major Leagues over the past two years with Philadelphia. While his preference is to start, the 27-year-old realizes that starting would be a longshot in Oakland with the team returning all five starting pitchers from 2020, and he would gladly accept any role that comes his way.

“The goal is to make the Opening Day roster,” Irvin said. “Now that I’m with Oakland, I want to take advantage of all the opportunities they give me. I just want to show them what I can do. Show that I can mix speeds with my fastball and execute good changeups, sliders and curveballs.”

After posting a 6.75 ERA in 19 appearances over the past two years with the Phillies, the University of Oregon product is hoping the familiar green and gold A’s colors can improve his fortunes.

“I’m excited to wear the green and gold again, being a former Duck,” Irvin said. “That kind of adds a little confidence. It’s kind of odd, but I feel really comfortable in these colors.”

Up next

The A’s get a day off Thursday before returning to action on Friday against the Angels at Hohokam Stadium. Matt Chapman, who is making his way back from season-ending hip surgery last September, is expected to make his spring debut at third base. The two-time Gold and Platinum Glove Award winner has played two games this spring as the designated hitter, going 2-for-6 with a double.