Sometimes, something just clicks for a player after a couple of years in the minor leagues. It takes some time to adapt to playing baseball professionally, to have one’s entire life centered around the game. For the Kansas City Royals Cody Reed, it seems like that may have happened this season.
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Heading into this season, the Royals second round draft pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft had hardly performed like the player they had hoped for. In his 34 games prior to this season, including 25 starts, Reed had a 3-10 record with a 5.62 ERA and a 1.716 WHiP. He had struck out 83 batters in his 11.32 innings of work, while walking 59 batters and uncorking 15 wild pitches. It was certainly an inauspicious start to Reed’s professional career.
This season has been completely different for Cody Reed. In his eight outings for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, including five starts, Reed has posted a 4-2 record with a 1.40 ERA and a 1.009 WHiP. In 38.2 innings, Reed has struck out 46 batters while issuing only nine walks. Needless to say, the transformation from his previous two seasons to this year has been remarkable.
Of course, the question becomes whether or not this is sustainable. Looking at the peripheral statistics, Reed’s growth this season may well be. Opponents have a batting average on balls in play of .303 against Reed, just a shade over the league average of .300. Likewise, his 18.0% line drive rate and 34.0% fly ball rate are a bit over the league averages of 16.7% and 27.1% respectively, but are not so far above average to indicate that this success is a matter of good fortune.
In fact, Reed’s struggles last season may well have been a byproduct of bad luck. During his time with the Lexington Legends, opponents had a .361 batting average on balls in play, despite a reasonable 19.3% line drive rate and a 51.7% ground ball rate. The 5.46 ERA and 1.679 WHiP that Reed posted last year certainly do not tell the true story of how he performed.
Even if we use Cody Reed’s fielding independent pitching results from the past two seasons instead of his ERA, this season has truly been a breakout for the Kansas City Royals minor leaguer. A pitcher who barely cracked the top 500 prospect list put together by top500prospects.com at the start of the season, Reed’s recent run of success, if it is truly sustainable as it appears to be, could propel him up the rankings quickly.
The Kansas City Royals are noted for their pitching prospects. Cody Reed could prove to be yet another one on the long list.