Instructional League Q&A: Mark Reed

A group of 40 Cubs prospects reported to the organization's annual Instructional League camp last week. Friday marks the beginning of head-to-head play with other organizations and the Cubs' schedule will open with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Mesa's Fitch Park.

Among the many on hand will be catcher Mark Reed, the Cubs' third-round pick in the 2004 draft. The 20-year-old got off to a fast start at Class-A Peoria this past season, but started slumping in July and closed out the year with a .252 average in 101 games.

We asked Reed about his second-half struggles, and whether his 5'11", 175-lb frame is equipped for the role of a backstop.

Q: What impressed you most about the Beloit team in the Midwest League playoffs?

A: They had a few hitters that I liked. Eli Tintor was a guy who really got us. He hit a home run in the first game and then ended up hitting a two-run homer in the third game that put them ahead. Our guys battled. We had a chance to come back and win that last game. We lost the first game and came back to win the second. The third one got away from us a little. Altogether, it was a good season and we battled. It's baseball and it happens.

Q: You started off really hot the first three months and then seemed to hit a snag in July. What was the biggest difference in the two halves?

A: I wasn't really playing every day at the beginning. I would catch and then (Jake) Muyco would catch. I started to DH and started to get a lot more at-bats. I had a lot of confidence and had a three-hit game right off the bat. Then I started to play every day once Muyco went up to Daytona in the second half. I struggled right at the beginning of the second half and just never got out of it. I probably put too much pressure to get back to where I was and thought about numbers a little too much. It got into my own head and I never really got out of it.

Q: Some believe your size is a little too small to be an everyday catcher. What do you make of that?

A: Catching is something I've done my whole life. I want to do it for the rest of my career. People have said that I'm not big enough and too small to catch and that I'm going to get beat up back there. I use that as motivation. I believe I can do it and it's something that I know I'll have to get bigger and stronger at. Going into the off-season, I'm going to work hard in the weight room and try to put some weight on so that I can handle catching 120 games. It's a goal for me to get stronger and to be able to be an everyday catcher. Later on down the road, if I have to move positions and it's going to help my career, I'll do it. But I want to catch right now and I want the Cubs to think I can be relied on as an everyday catcher.

Q: You're in the Instructional League for a second year. What do you plan to work on with regards to catching?

A: Catching-wise, just refining my tools like blocking and throwing, and receiving the new draft picks that we got. Over the season, you get into some bad habits and I'm just trying to refine my tools. Work-wise, I'll be throwing down to second and blocking balls in the dirt. The big thing is getting my approach back at the plate to what I had going into the first half, like hitting the ball to all sides of the field.

Q: You led the Midwest League in fielding percentage and threw out 42 percent of opposing runners. How would you rate your defense this year?

A: To tell you the truth, I'm not satisfied. I don't think it's something you can ever be satisfied with. I didn't even know those were my numbers, but it's something I have to get better at. It gets harder as you move up. The base-running gets better. Like I said, that's one of the things I'll be working on.

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