Live from "Instructs" with Mark Reed

MESA, Ariz. -- The highly touted 2004 third-round draft pick and catching prospect gives an update on his progress in the Cubs' Instructional League camp.

Should Mark Reed have been assigned to Peoria right from the start of the 2005 season? Statistics might say no, but Reed would say otherwise.

"It was a good thing for me to go right to Peoria at such a young age," said Reed, who hit .135 in 14 games behind the plate for the Cubs' full-season A-ball affiliate. "It was tough because I struggled right away certainly, but I think it was good in the end to go through all that and learn from it."

Just one month into the season, the 19-year-old Reed's struggles resulted in a trip to extended spring training. His competition while at Peoria included second-year Midwest League catcher Alan Rick, and Oscar Bernard, who began the year serving a 15-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Minor League Drug and Prevention program.

The time in "extended" helped Reed come out of the gate strong later in the year at Boise, the Cubs' short-season Low-A affiliate. He got off to a 10-for-32 start in his first nine games with the Hawks, putting together four multi-hit showings in his first six contests before eventually cooling off and ending the year with a .236 average in 40 games behind the plate. (Reed hit .250 overall with additional starts as the Hawks' starting DH.)

"Going back down to extended worked out well because I got a little more confidence," Reed said. "All together, it was a good first year getting used to catching that many games."

When regular season play ended, Reed was one of five catchers invited to the Instructional League. There he joined Bernard, Yusuf Carter (son of Joe Carter), Jake Muyco and Enrique Lujan, a 20-year-old who played 20 games in the Mexican League for the Tijuana Colts this year.

Reed spoke of some of the things he's currently working on in Mesa.

"I had a lot of movement going on in my swing that I had to work through this year," he said. "I have to tone it down a little there. Being quieter at the plate makes me able to see the ball better."

With regards to defense, Reed said, "I've been working on blocking balls. Earlier this year in my early work before the games, I would always work on my throws. It's a big thing with me. I'm doing a lot of things with my stances behind the plate just to get a better chance to block balls and throw out runners."

"Being down here, it's individual training with different guys around," Reed said. "It's good to have that many eyes on you. I think both parts, defense and hitting, are still in developing stages, but I think that with defense, you always … hitting can click for you. Defense is something you always have to work at for a catcher. You always have to be in the right place and in a good place to catch the ball and throw it."

Lastly, it's been a long first full season in the Cub organization for Reed--drafted out of high school in La Verne, Calif., a year ago. He touched on it all.

"It's something people always say is going to be a long year," said Reed, the younger brother of Seattle Mariners outfielder Jeremy Reed. "But you have to go through it in order to understand it. I really understand how long it is now and I understand I'm going through the grind."


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