The Pirates selected Carlson Reed in the 4th round out of West Virginia University. The right-handed reliever served as WVU’s late-inning closing/set-up pitcher, tossing 38 innings, all out of the bullpen. Reed had an outstanding 2.61 ERA while only allowing two home runs and striking out nearly 35% of the batters he faced. But while Reed was great at striking out batters, he also dished out a ton of walks with a 14.5% walk rate.
Carlson made his pro debut at the Pirates’ Florida Complex League affiliate, pitching seven innings. He allowed three walks and he hit a batter, but struck out six and allowed two earned runs. Two of Reed’s four appearances were starts, but he was never used for more than three innings, which was out of the bullpen. Don’t take his bottom line too seriously, as it was less than one whole game’s worth of innings.
Reed throws hard, sitting mid-90s with his four-seam fastball. However, his velocity looks even faster out of the hand. Reed stands at a lankly 6’4”, 200 pounds. He has a great release point extension. This is a plus pitch because of his extension. His best secondary pitch is a low-80s slider, but he’ll also mix in a mid-80s change-up. According to Baseball America, he mixed in the change a lot more often than you would typically see from a reliever.
Even though he already tops out at 98, there’s potential for more velocity because of his physical projectability. Reed only turned 21 in late November. While Reed’s stuff looks good, his command is shaky. His motion has a handful of moving parts, partly because of his size. Some simplification of his wind-up may help him in the long run.
Relievers can be moved through a farm system with a little more authority. It’s harder to develop a guy to throw 5-7 good innings than only one or two great innings. Most relief prospects already have good stuff, with command being the bigger issue. Carlson could figure out his command. BA made a comparison between Reed and Orion Kerkering from the Phillies, a hard-throwing young reliever who significantly improved his command in one year and made his MLB debut in the next season. Could Reed be the next Kerkering? Only time will tell, but the talent is there.