Buddy, his full name is Michael but everyone, starting with his mother, calls him Buddy, is six-foot-four, 210 pounds centerfielder that San Diego scouts envision covering large swaths of PETCO’s outfield.
After hitting .307/.367/.433 as a sophomore at the University of Florida, his stock fell after a subpar junior year where he hit .262/.362/.395, but not that far.
“He was a multi-sport star in high school and just hasn’t played as much baseball as others, but he is also one of the best athletes in college baseball this year and will have no problem staying in center field,” said MLB.com’s Jim Callis on San Diego’s selection of Reed in the draft.
“There is a lot of work for the development guys to do with his swing and no I wouldn’t have liked this as a first round pick, but in the second round, absolutely.”
He joined Tri-City in early June after the Gators finished their College World Series run and has hit .237/.296/.278 in the Northwest League.
“What we are mainly working with Buddy right now is just getting him on time,” said Ben Fritz, the Dust Devils’ manager. “We can work on mechanics with him in the Instructs, but right now the main thing is getting him in a good hitting position when the pitcher releases the ball.”
“Timing comes before mechanics.”
We caught up with Buddy before a recent game to talk about his hockey and soccer careers and working on the “hit tool.”
How did you get to a prep school in Rhode Island, St. George’s, from Maryland?
Buddy Reed: Originally, I was born in the Bronx, New York but my Dad wanted to relocate for his real estate business so we moved to Maryland. I told my Dad that I wanted to continue to play hockey - because that was my first sport - and that is how I got to St. George’s.
They saw me at a couple of hockey events in Massachusetts, which is kind of like the Perfect Game Showcases in baseball - and that is how I got a scholarship to St. George’s.
What position did you play in hockey?
Buddy Reed: I played right wing. I also played soccer all of my life and was a forward; I’ve always liked to be in the front where I can attack. Along with baseball, those were my three main sports.
How did you choose baseball?
Buddy Reed: Hockey and soccer were the sports that I was more serious about early on. I wanted to play soccer in Europe, but that wasn’t going to happen. Then it came down to baseball or hockey and I thought baseball was better in the long term.
You were thinking of playing soccer in Europe?
Buddy Reed: It is really hard for an American because you have to start very young but I knew a few guys in the youth programs but it was still kind of distant. Going to college and playing baseball seemed like a better option.
You played three sports and you are a switch-hitter in baseball. You have quite a few things going on. How did you get to be a switch-hitter?
Buddy Reed: That is something I have always done. When I was little my Mom put the ball on a tee and had me swing from one side and when I was tired, we switched over.
Are you two different hitters from each side?
Buddy Reed: I would say so, a little different set-up. You have to fight your body to get to your comfort zone, so it’s a little different.
You went to college at University of Florida. Was it easier for you to concentrate on just one sport or after being so busy in prep school did you find that you had too much free time on your hands?
Buddy Reed: Not really. When our kicker went down I got an opportunity to try out for the football team. But really just playing baseball as much as I did - four or five days out of the week - helped me to become a better player. Being here now where I am playing every day should really help me to get better.
So many guys talk about the difference from playing three days a week to coming here when you can play seven straight days as an adjustment. In college when something wasn’t going right you had a chance to work on it in practice, here you don’t.
How do you adjust?
Buddy Reed: The staff here really does a great job of prepping me to play everyday. I try to go game by game, at-bat by at-bat and pitch-by-pitch.
At the end of the day you just go out there and play. Yes, performance is important and we all want to do well, but if you are not enjoying yourself you aren’t going to do well.
I’m just blessed that I am able to play and be here. Success isn’t going to come right away and I know that. I also think many times you have to fail before you can succeed. There are lot of things I have to learn, the main thing is that I really want to stay positive.
You are one of the few guys that wears glasses on the field. Have you always worn them or did you also wear contacts?
Buddy Reed: I wore contacts at the beginning of my freshman year and midway through my sophomore year. I started to find that I could get a lot of dust in my eyes and thought I would try glasses one day.
My eyes got less irritated and I started to see the ball better, so they stayed.
What is one part of your game that you really want to see improve?
Buddy Reed: The hit tool. A lot of things have been written about how unconventional that I am at the plate - I mean you hear things, but I try to keep the negativity away - but it is something that I can improve upon. I have good tools and need to refine them.
It is important to work hard to improve, but it is equally important to work intelligently so that you can see and demonstrate the progress on the field. It is going to be a process and right now I’m just trying to get on a decent routine where I can get better everyday.
Your Spanish is picking up from what I heard in batting practice.
Buddy Reed: My Spanish is definitely getting better.[laughs] At St. George’s my roommate was from Panama so he helped me out a lot.
The big things are to have fun, be a good teammate and help your team win. If I can do that, things are going to be ok.