Class of 2006 Prospect - MS, CF, Justin Reed

Hillcrest Christian School outfielder Justin Reed will be one of the top players in the state this coming baseball season. Gene's Page caught up with him recently and talked recruiting, among other things.

Justin Reed Profile:

I saw Reed play for the first time about two weeks ago. He was playing centerfield for the Mississippi Stars, an all-star team made up of some of the top high school players in Mississippi. Considering how well he played the outfield, it came as a huge surprise when I found out what position he had played the past three years at Calloway High School in Jackson, Mississippi.

"I played catcher on my high school team," said Reed. "That was the only position that I played."

But it's not the position that he prefers.

"I love centerfield," said Reed. "That is the position that I like for myself, because I feel that I can run well. I run a 6.5 sixty playing catcher. If a ball gets into the gap, I can cut a triple down to a double due to my speed."

While he feels his speed is a big asset, he's not too bad at the plate, either.

"I started as a freshman for Callaway High School and led the team in batting average and home runs," said Reed, the number 9 hitter in the lineup. "I batted .303 with 5 home runs and 17 stolen bases as a freshman in high school against some of the top 5A schools in the state.

"My 10th grade year, I batted .545. We dropped down from 5A to 4A, so the competition wasn't as strong. This past year, I led the team with a .508 batting average and had 29 stolen bases and made All-Metro Player of the Year. I really didn't get to see many good pitches and was walked a lot."

Although most players who steal 29 bases in a season think that's a pretty good number, Reed's almost apologetic about the number.

"The reason I didn't steal any more stolen bases was because they would pull me off the field to allow me to put my gear back on (after a base hit)," said Reed.

Reed and his family made a decision that will allow him to not only steal more bases, but also allow him to play centerfield.

"I transferred to Hillcrest Christian, so I will strictly play centerfield this year," said Reed. "Hopefully, I will hit at the top of the order, which will allow me to use my speed more and steal more bases."

Even though he feels he hasn't been able to showcase his speed on the base paths or in the outfield the past three seasons, that hasn't stopped colleges from taking notice of his outstanding talent, especially the three in-state schools.

"Mainly, the in-state schools are recruiting me," said Reed. "I haven't received too much from Mississippi State. I have received one questionnaire and some interest in a camp. But USM and Ole Miss are coming in pretty good. Between those two, I would say Ole Miss is coming at me the best. We talk back and forth on emails. I also went to several of their baseball games. That doesn't mean that USM isn't showing me a lot of attention, just that Ole Miss is coming at me the best."

Does Ole Miss' interest in him put them at the top of his recruiting list?

"To be honest, there is no specific school that I just have to go to," said Reed. "The main thing is I want to go where I will be able to play as a freshman. That doesn't mean that I want to start as a freshman. I understand playing behind a junior or a senior that has started all his years there. But, my main thing is I just want a chance. If there is a case where there is a freshman or sophomore on the field and I come in and produce more than that player, then I would just like a chance to play on the field."

Ultimately, according to Reed, it will come down to two things when it comes time to sign with a college.

"The main thing is the school that offers the most scholarship (money) and the most playing time is probably where I will go," said Reed.

Although it appears college ball is in his plans, is there a chance that he will consider going pro directly out of high school?

"The only way that I would go (pro) out of high school is if I go in the first three rounds," said Reed. "It would have to be significant money for me not to go to college. But, I'm mainly looking to go to school and get my education. Then, hopefully, if I go to a four-year school, the opportunity will come along again and I can come out after three years. If I go to Meridian Junior College, a school that is looking at me pretty hard, and have a good two years, then I might go to the pros."

Keep it right here for the latest on this outstanding young baseball player.

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Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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