The Kentucky junior pitcher/first baseman was presented the 2014 Dick Howser Trophy on Saturday morning in Omaha, Neb., in conjunction with the College World Series. He joined a prestigious list of prior winners that includes MLB stars like Robin Ventura, Todd Helton, J.D. Drew, Mark Teixeira, Buster Posey, David Price and Stephen Strasburg.
"First off, just would like to thank the coaches and staff at Kentucky, and my mom and my family to give me the opportunity to play baseball growing up, the coaches to give me the opportunity to play at Kentucky and in the SEC," Reed said in an opening statement at the award presentation. "I couldn't have done it without anybody at UK, the coaches, the staff, and my teammates especially. They are the ones that push me and the coaches pushed me to get better every day. Without all of them, none of this could've been done. I'd also like to say thank you to the committee and everybody who voted for acknowledging the season. Without them, this couldn't have been done."
Reed has now been named the Baseball America College Player of the Year, the Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year, the SEC Player of the Year and a first-team All-American. As a junior, he batted .336 with a national-high 23 home runs and an SEC-leading 73 RBI. He led the nation in slugging percentage (.735) and OPS (1.211). The left-hander also posted a 12-2 record and a 2.09 ERA on the mound in helping lead the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament.
"I'll give you a little bit of an idea of who A.J. is," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "The numbers, everyone is aware of the numbers, they are spectacular. A.J. is a guy that is at the center of your club. He has a good time every day he is at the field. He likes to laugh, he has a good sense of humor. He can poke fun at himself. He is fun to be around, consistently, even when it didn't go well and he had a rough weekend, you knew that A.J. was going to show up and bring energy and a smile. Those are all things that we look forward to on a daily basis with A.J. Let me take a step back and thank (Reed's mother) Debbie."
Last week, Reed was drafted with the first pick in the second round and signed with the Houston Astros organization. He'll begin his professional career with the Tri-Valley River Cats in the New York-Penn League.
The Dick Howser Trophy, given in memory of the former Florida State University All-America shortstop and Major League player and manager, who died of brain cancer in 1987, has been presented for the last 28 years. Criteria for consideration for the trophy include performance on the field, leadership, moral character, and courage, qualities which were exemplified by Dick Howser's life.
"A.J. Reed embodies all of the qualities that we identify when selecting the award winner," said David Feaster, executive director of the Dick Howser Trophy Committee. "His numbers both as a hitter and pitcher were at the top of one of the nation's finest leagues, the Southeastern Conference. His numbers speak for the outstanding season he had – and he did it with excellent sportsmanship and class."