Reed's choice of baseball over football pays off
SAN DIEGO -- Michael Reed decided after his sophomore year of high school to give up football, the sport that took his father all the way to the National Football League, and devote all of his energy to baseball. As he prepared Thursday to make his first Major League start as the Brewers' right fielder at Petco Park, it was obvious that the decision paid off.
Reed was an outside linebacker and fullback on the football field. His father, Benton, was a defensive end drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1986 and started three games for the New England Patriots in '87.
"I enjoyed it," Michael Reed said of playing football. "It gave me that aggressive mentality as a young kid. [But] my ability on the [baseball] field was a lot greater than on the football field. I decided to take it on full-time. After my sophomore year, I started to get some looks in baseball. I got my first offer from Texas State.
"So I said, 'I think it's time to start focusing on baseball.'"
Reed was prepared to follow in his father's footsteps at Ole Miss, but the Brewers drafted him in the fifth round in 2011 and paid him an above-slot bonus of $500,000 to lure him to the pro ranks. Looking back, the 22-year-old called it the right decision, saying there was no way he would be in the Majors today had he gone to college and entered the Draft again after his junior year.
This year represented a breakthrough for Reed, who has always impressed with his high on-base percentage (he led the Florida State League in 2014 with a .396 OBP) but flourished in other categories during a '15 season split between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Colorado Springs. He set a career high with 33 doubles while batting .269/.371/.410. In 93 regular-season games at Biloxi, his OPS was .801.
"To me, he's developing in a good way," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He's shown an ability throughout his Minor League career to control the strike zone. And the rest of his offensive game, you're hoping, is coming as a result of that. He's a prospect."
Reed got wind Wednesday night that he could be in line for a start in the Brewers' road finale on Thursday, a 3-1 loss in which Reed went 1-for-3 and made a nice sliding catch to end the third inning.
He said family and friends were planning to tune into the game, including his father.
"He's been a big influence of mine, ever since I was a little boy," Reed said. "He made it to the NFL, so he kind of knows 'the system.' It's a different sport, but there are a lot of similarities. That has definitely helped me a lot."
Reed's season will continue in the Arizona Fall League, a finishing school of sorts for top prospects. When he finally calls it a year, he will look back on 2015 with fondness.
"Definitely," Reed said. "I reached a lot of goals this year that I set in the offseason. It goes back to how hard I trained in the offseason. It's all paying off. … This is what I dreamed of since I was a little boy."