Over the next nine days I will profile the nine players that I encourage you to pay attention to during the '09 season. These players were not included on BBTiA's Top 25 Prospects list, and they all played in the Arizona Rookie League and above during the '08 season. I excluded all players that were not stateside in '08, but I will focus on the Dominican Summer League prospects before the minor league season begins.
The prospects that will be profiled might not be the biggest names, or have the highest ceilings, but they are the players that I think have a chance to take big steps forward during the '09 season. Who is on your list?
On my list so far:
Evan Reed was drafted in the third round of the 2007 amateur draft out of Cal Poly. As a college reliever, Reed found success as a two-pitch pitcher relying heavily on his plus fastball (60/60, representing the present/future caliber of the pitch on the 20-to-80 scouting scale) to miss bats. However, the Rangers saw something in the big 6' 4," 230-pound right-hander that convinced them to convert Reed back into a starter.
In addition to his plus fastball, Reed also features an average slider (45/55) and a developing change-up (40/50). Despite having inconsistent comps, Reed was still able to be quite effective in his debut season thanks again to his 92-to-96 mph cheese.
Unfortunately, Reed's success from the '07 season didn't exactly translate to the higher levels in '08. After starting the year back at Low-A Clinton (12 IP) and jumping all the way up to Double-A Frisco to make a spot start, Reed logged 125-plus innings at High-A Bakersfield. Despite proving to be a durable starter, Reed's pure stuff didn't take a step forward. His fastball usually sat in the low-90s, but lacked movement, and his slider wasn't able to miss many bats. His change-up seemed to improve as the season progressed, but the arsenal as a whole wasn't very effective against his California League opponents.
Why is he on this list? Well, Reed is the type of pitcher that can really take a step forward if he improves his command. His fastball, despite being somewhat straight, is already a plus pitch. His slider, which has been effective in the past, could really improve with mechanical consistency. His change-up, a pitch he is still trying to get comfortable with, could also step up with improved command. Reed, unlike most pitchers, already has a solid arsenal to work with. His issues are fixable. It's much easier to improve your secondary pitches than to improve your fastball.
Reed projects to be a solid No. 3 starter if his command/comps improve to average, but he also has the background and the mentality to move back to the bullpen if his comps don't improve. His repertoire won't make him a star, but it could make him an attractive arm at the major league level. Reed should start the year in the Frisco rotation, but I wouldn't rule out a return to the bullpen if the Rangers feel his arsenal is better served in short bursts. Regardless of his future role, Reed has a chance to take a step forward in '09.
Reed's pre-draft scouting video:
[Direct link available here.]