There is arguably no more intriguing prospect in the 2016 MLB Draft than Florida’s Buddy Reed. While it is difficult to project this year’s top-ten and even top overall pick, it is seemingly even harder to figure out where Reed will go. There hasn’t been a prospect like Reed on this year’s draft board. He is a prospect that could go as early as the top-15 or as late as the middle of the second round.
Reed has been Florida’s starting centerfielder for the past two seasons. Being a focal point on one of the nation’s best teams the past few seasons certainly carries a lot of weight. Reed has added roughly 30 pounds since his freshman season, standing at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, so while he is still tall and lanky, he has also grown into the frame as most had hoped.
He has been in the national spotlight for some time. As a three-sport superstar — the untraditional combo of soccer, hockey and baseball —out of St. George’s School in Rhode Island, Reed was drafted in the 35th round of the 2013 draft by the Texas Rangers (one round before they selected 2016 likely first-rounder Dakota Hudson). He played well alongside many of his fellow soon-to-be draft-mates for Team USA this summer despite arriving late due to Florida’s long run in the College World Series. He led the squad in RBI (12) batting second behind Corey Ray in just 12 games.
Then, of course, is his time in Florida. His freshman year saw Reed start 51 of 60 games and really struggle with the bat, slashing just .244/.314/.285. His sophomore year was his breakout season, playing arguably the best defensive outfield in the powerful SEC while putting up his best offensive numbers. Reed slashed .305/.367/.433 with 14 doubles, five triples and four home runs. He did strike out a bit too much — posting a 56-to-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 282 at bats — which put a bit of a red flag on him, but Reed was on everybody’s map, and by season’s end, he was projected as a top-ten draft pick in 2016.
Reed’s greatest weapon is his grade-70 speed, which plays well on both sides of the ball. He is a highlight reel in centerfield, with unbelievable range and a 60-grade arm that will work from all three outfield positions, an asset that can help him fit in more quickly at the next level. His arm is big, but it is also accurate and his instincts and play are beyond advanced. He didn’t make an error in his first 57 games played this season.
The question was always his bat. Most are concerned that Reed simply won’t hit once he ditches the aluminum bat and faces the advanced pitching at the next level. His 2016 season didn’t do anything to alleviate those concerns. Reed has started 60 games (although the Gators are still rolling strong in the College World Series) and while his extra base hit numbers stayed relatively the same — 10 doubles, six triples, and four home runs — he is batting .255, a tremendous drop. He has just five hits in his last ten games, going 5-for-37 over that span. While he does have an improved strikeout-to-walk ratio with 57 strikeouts and 36 walks, his strikeout percentage is simply to high for a top-of-the-order hitter as he is leading all Gators in strikeouts.
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