Chris Reed has undergone two dramatic changes since a year ago when he was Stanford’s lights-out closer.
One change is the blue uniform. It takes some getting used to after he spent three years as a Cardinal, but as last year’s first-round draft pick by the Dodgers, he’s likely to be rocking the blue for a long time to come. The other change is he’s now a starting pitcher – a role he aspired to in college, but instead ended up closing games, ultimately saving nine games last season.
Otherwise, Reed is the same quirky southpaw he’s always been. Still with the high-intensity torque as he rears back to throw. Still the same low three-quarters arm slot. And, still a bit of a wild streak that makes for the most uncomfortable of at bats, considering he gets a good 95-mph zip on his fastball.
Reed came up short in his homecoming Monday night, as Dodgers High-A affiliate Rancho Cucamonga fell 3-2 to San Jose at Municipal Stadium. But, to say Reed was treated rudely by the High-A Giants would be a bit of a misnomer. The Giants only had one productive swing of the bat, but they made it count – a three-run home run in the second inning by Devin Harris, which accounted for all of San Jose’s runs.
Even so, Reed’s wild side was his undoing, as he issued five walks, including two to set the table for Harris’ game-changing blast. The southpaw settled down soon thereafter, retiring 11 of the next 12 batters he faced, including 10 in a row at one point. All told, Reed worked six innings, allowing three runs on three hits, while walking five and striking out four.
Rancho Cucamonga pitching coach Matt Herges is a believer in Reed, though. Herges said Reed has a desire to succeed that sets him apart from most.
And, there was no moment more evident of that desire than in the fourth inning when Harris walked to the plate for his next at bat. Before Harris even reached the home-plate circle, Reed gathered the ball back after a routine groundout, had come set on the mound – glove to his face, peering intently over the top of it – and intently awaited the hitter who had taken him deep two innings previous.
Reed won the fourth-inning battle by inducing a lazy fly ball to center. Still, Harris’ blast was enough to hang a loss on Reed, who, at 0-2, is still in search of his first victory of the season.
Rancho Cucamonga currently touts two former first-round picks. In addition to Reed, the Quakes boast right-hander Zach Lee in their starting rotation – the Dodgers first-round pick from 2010. Lee also has yet to record a win this season, but has posted an impressive line in three starts thus far, with a 2.40 ERA, and 16 strikeouts against three walks over 15 innings.