MLB Draft: Does Buddy Reed make sense for the Pirates?

Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports /

Over the last few years the Pirates have been picking later in the first round of the MLB Draft, mostly in the 20-30 range.  With this it is hard to find pure talent at this point in the draft.  What is not hard is to find the specific players who do certain things well and pure athletes.

Two years ago the Pirates picked at #24 in the MLB Draft and selected high school short stop Cole Tucker.  Tucker was projected as a tall, athletic shortstop.  Teams such as the Pirates viewed him as very raw, but had solid potential if he matured into his frame.  In 2015 the Pirates went the opposite route.  They selected shortstop Kevin Newman out of the University of Arizona.  He was not viewed as a great athlete necessarily, but the Pirates drafted him because he proved to be a solid hitter with the ability to get on base and play defense.

Reed presents as the pure athlete choice.  Reed was once projected as a top 15 pick in the draft.  However, he has not had the year that many projected him to and he has fallen in the rankings to 20-30 range.  With that there is still some very attractive attributes that Reed brings to the game.

Reed is a pure athlete.  He has great size as he stands at 6’4” and 210 pounds.  With a frame like that there is a lot of projectability to him.  One player he can compare to is Pirates current outfielder Gregory Polanco.  For Reed’s size he runs well (22 stolen bases this year), but still has not been able to translate his raw power to in game situations (8 career home runs in 188 games).  With that, comparisons the same was said about Polanco when he was 21 years of age and developing.

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In his college career thus far he is a .278 hitter with a .746 OPS.  Very underwhelming numbers.  However, keep in mind he did only hit .244 his freshmen year.  He followed his freshmen year up with a breakout sophomore year when he batted .305 with a .800 OPS.  Those numbers combined with his size projected him into the top 15 picks of this years draft.

Unfortunately, he has not built on those strong numbers this season. On the year the switch-hitter is batting .268 with an .789 OPS.  This is the reason he has fallen out of the top 15 in the rankings.  However, with his frame and athleticism teams will still view him as a first round talent.  However, unless he has a very strong College World Series playoffs he likely will be around for the Pirate’s pick.

Reed’s best tool is his foot-speed.  As mentioned above he has stolen 22 bags this year and plays plus defense in center field for the Gators.  The belief is that he will be able to stick in center field during his pro career. On the other hand, his size suggests that he would be better suited for a corner outfield spot. He also has an above average arm.

The biggest flaw in his game is on the offensive side of ball.  He tends to be inconsistent with his mechanics at the plate.  Many scouts wonder if he is better off dropping switch hitter and just focusing on the right side of the plate.  While batting on the left side, Reed shows hesitancy on pitches and tends to jam himself while swinging.

Reed is a pure athlete.  He is the type of player that would fit well into the Pirates’ system.  He is still physically filling out.  However, he needs time to refine his mechanics and approach at the plate in the minors to reach his ceiling.  The Pirates are in no need of near-term future outfield help.  Taking Reed could be beneficial for both side.  The Pirates could get an impact athlete who will be ready in a three to four years. Meanwhile, Reed will have the opportunity to develop his game without feeling the pressure of being rushed up an organization’s minor leagues.

With the current Pirate’s farm system, Reed would not be in the spotlight.  He would be able to continue to develop as he would not be under the fan-base’s watchful eye.  The Pirates have plenty of talent in their system and Reed would likely be overshadowed by other outfielders like Austin Meadows and Harold Ramirez.

Also, as alluded to earlier, the Pirates outfield is locked up right now.  With that the organization has the two outstanding prospects at AA who will likely finish the year in AAA.  After Meadows and Ramirez there is not much high potential talent in the lower minors in regards to the outfield.  Reed would be able to spend as much time as needed in the lower minors and be part of the next wave of prospects to come up around 2018 or 2019.

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Should the Pirates select Buddy Reed?  It could be a real possibility.  The Pirates have stockpiled 2 shortstops, a second baseman, and a third baseman with high picks in the last two drafts (Tucker, Newman, Kramer, Hayes).  They may look to add some outfield talent back into the system this year.  Reed is a raw player, but he could develop into a unique talent.