Brett Reid Ahead Of Schedule

Potomac reliever Brett Reid was steadily climbing his way through the Nationals' farm system to become one of the better relief pitching prospects until Tommy John surgery prematurely ended his year. Reid, who completed the 2005 season with a 2.76 ERA and has struck out better than eleven batters per nine innings in his career, is ahead of schedule in his recovery and believes he can bounce back better than ever.

Drafted in the 15th round of the 2003 MLB Draft out of tiny Avila College in Missouri, Brett Reid has earned the reputation as being one of the more electric relief pitchers in the Nationals' farm system despite being drafted from such a small school.

"It was really an honor," Brett Reid told CapitolDugout.com in a recent interview. "I was the first person ever to get drafted out of my school. I went to Kansas State my freshman year and got a lot more opportunities than I thought I would have, pitching on the weekends and playing third base during the week. I transferred to Avila but I wanted to go to another Division I school."

"I did everything but sign a letter of intent with the University of Texas, but I didn't have the right requirements with credits and academics to transfer," Reid explained. "[For the draft] I fell off the planet. I was expecting to go in the 40th round or something and I was getting ready to prove people wrong. I think where I was drafted, they got a deal."

He had an inauspicious professional debut with the Vermont Expos in 2003, posting an 0-2 record with a 4.76 ERA in 19 relief appearances. However, as pedestrian as his overall numbers may have seen, Reid still struck out nearly 14 batters per 9 innings pitched in the NY-Penn League, showing signs of good things to come.

Armed with an overpowering slider, a solid changeup, and an average Major League fastball clocked in the 90-92 MPH range, Reid made a name for himself by dominating the South Atlantic League in 2004, striking out 84 batters in 46 relief appearances while posting a 1.98 ERA and saving 15 games for the Savannah Sand Gnats.

With his stock as a legitimate pitching prospect clearly on the rise, Reid continued to overmatch opposing batters in the Carolina League with the Potomac Nationals in 2005. He began the year posting a 2.76 ERA in his first 28 relief appearances before being sidelined for good after an appearance on July 10th.

"Well, aside from having Tommy John surgery, I think it went really well," Reid said of his performance with Potomac in 2005. "I think the combination of the year I had last year and then this year, I was able to put similar numbers. I think I was able to prove my consistency and prove that I was able to pitch at that level, before the injury. I never really had an arm problem before, so it was disappointing for me to end the season like that."

Brett Reid had Tommy John surgery on August 16th, a surgery that normally requires 12-18 months of rehabbing and recovery.

"They say that, on paper, I will be out at least a year," the 26-year old revealed. "I don't want to rush back or anything, but it feels really good right now. I was down at the complex and comparing notes with some of the other guys rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Even after the surgery, a lot of guys had pain. But I'm not feeling any pain at all since the surgery."

Feeling no pain already is not the most miraculous part about his recovery however. Brett Reid actually feels stronger now, just three months removed from Tommy John surgery, than he did before the injury.

"I'm lifting more weight in my workouts now then even before the surgery," an excited Reid told CapitolDugout.com. "We [Reid, the doctors, and the Nationals] think it is really healing fast. I just started throwing on November 26th. I'm sure I'll be nervous in the beginning, but I'm sure I'll be fine."

Reid touched on the hardest part about rehabbing an elbow surgically repaired from the Tommy John procedure, having to deal with the mental aspect of pitching with the new elbow and fighting off the temptation to rush back prematurely.

"It is going to be a long road back as far as getting into game shape," Reid confessed. "I want to be able to go 100 percent. I want to get to the point where I was before the injury, or don't do it at all."

Even though he's feeling better now than even before the injury, Reid and the Nationals will remain conservative in their timetable towards returning to the mound.

"Whenever I start the year, when I to go into games, I want my arm to be healthy," the strikeout artist told us. "The bone takes the longest to heal. Even though I'm about a month ahead of schedule in my recovery, they have me coming back sometime in early June. I don't want to come back though until I'm able to throw a baseball like I did before the injury. I just want to go out there and feel healthy and not even think about it."

Having impeccable control of a devastating slider at the lower minor league levels, a pitch that not only moves over the entire plate but a pitch that he can actually throw for strikes more consistently than he can with his fastball, allowed him to become a dominant closer in the minors.

But how does Reid now project himself to a Major League roster, especially after the injury?

"The thing is you never know what is going to happen after this surgery," Reid speculated. "Some guys are able to throw harder after Tommy John surgery. If I could go from 90-92 MPH to 92-94 MPH, I'm pretty sure I could definitely be a closer. But as of right now I see myself more as a setup guy."

Brett Reid just turned 26-years old in October, an age where most legitimate pitching prospects are already making their marks at the Major League level. Now recovering from Tommy John surgery, Reid's ascension to the big leagues has hit an untimely speed bump.

With just a half of a season at the high-A level under his belt, and having to get himself back into game shape, it would appear Reid will find himself back into the Carolina League once he's healthy.

"I really don't think so," the confident slider specialist reflected. "I mean, I was borderline moving up to Harrisburg last year before the injury. I'm sure I'll go somewhere to rehab, but when it comes to the time that I'm healthy, I'd imagine I'll be in AA [Harrisburg]."

Focused entirely on his immediate goal of pitching healthy once again, and not even thinking about the Major Leagues at this point, Reid is not discouraged about the temporary setback. He is ready to do whatever it takes.

"To be honest though, I'm not worrying about where they send me," Reid admitted. "I just have to go out there and get everybody out no matter where they send me, even if its in Vermont."

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