Futures Game Preview: Game Report Dodgers Pitcher Chris Reed
In Part 2 of my focus on the Futures Game, here is a piece on World team member Chris Reed, born in the United Kingdom.
This past Sunday, I caught my first glimpse of Dodgers 2011 first round draft pick Chris Reed. Reed, a left handed pitcher out of Stanford, is making the transition from reliever to starter. The Dodgers are taking steps to limit Reed’s pitch count. Since his promotion to Chattanooga, Reed has been on a once-a-week pitching schedule, logging 3 innings in each of his first 5 starts. On Sunday, Reed struck out 4 in 3 scoreless innings against the Tennessee Smokies, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks.
The first thing that stands out about Reed is his arm angle. At 6’4”, Reed’s ¾’s arm angle neutralizes any height advantage on the pitcher’s mound that he would have had. This isn’t concerning since his ¾’s arm slot helps Reed hide the ball very well. The deception he is able to create makes his stuff look much better than it actually is. It may be a reach, but his motion reminds me of a right handed pitcher from the 90s named Kevin Appier.
His fastball was very flat and inconsistent, lacking much movement and explosiveness in the zone. He worked 89 to 92 MPH on his fastball. The deception of his pitching motion, along with his crisp secondary offerings, helped his fastball from being launched around the ballpark. Unlike other pitching prospects that I’ve seen a few times, I have only had the benefit of seeing his fastball for one game, 3 innings to be exact. I expect it to be a better pitch the next time I see it.
His slider is a plus offering, absolutely devastating to hitters throwing at that arm angle. The first thing I love about this offering is his ability to change sight lines. The pitch starts out in the same plane of his fastball with typical slider action; however, as it reaches the zone, the pitch’s bottom drops out. This enables Reed to use this pitch effectively to both right handed and left handed hitters. He mostly showcased plus command of the pitch, with the exception of one sequence where it seemed he lost, then found, the feel again for the pitch. He also was able to change speeds with the pitch, throwing a harder slider 83-86 and a slower slider 78-79. He did not slow down his arm or motion to achieve this disparity. Think of Johnny Venters before his recent struggles.
While his slider can be a pitch he uses against any hitter, Reed is going to need continued development of his change up to get keep left handed hitters honest as a starting pitcher. The few change ups he threw were only 3-4 MPH different from his average fastball. He made no attempts to slow down his arm while throwing this pitch, which is the biggest tell that a pitcher is throwing his change up. I think, with greater separation from his fastball, this could become a good pitch.
Chris Reed’s floor is high. At worst, he is a late inning reliever with the two pitches he currently possesses. If his change doesn’t progress, starting would likely be out of the equation long term; however, his slider, with a better fastball than I saw, could get him through the league a few times as a starter. If his fastball is better than what I saw and his change up progresses, he could very well be a front line starter. Unlike most college pitchers drafted in the first round, his projection has a wider variance. I can see him as a #2-#4 starter, or possibly and 8th or 9th inning guy. That being said, I saw enough of him to think the Dodgers will give him time to develop as a starter, unless an injury or a depth issue pushes him to the big leagues as a reliever.