In his first professional season as a reliever, Bakersfield pitcher Evan Reed leads the Rangers' organization with 18 saves.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound righty has posted excellent numbers with the Blaze, going 2-2 with a 3.40 earned-run average. In 42.1 innings, he has surrendered 39 hits while walking 26 and striking out 57.
That's approximately 12 punchouts per nine innings.
As was the case when he was drafted in the third round out of Cal Poly in 2007, Reed's best pitch is his 91-94 mph fastball, which generally tops out at 95 once per outing.
His four-seam fastball gets heavy armside sinking action, allowing him to rack up nearly two groundouts per airout this season. Although the Cal League tends to be homer friendly, Reed has also surrendered just one home run in his 37 relief appearances.
The biggest focus for Reed this season has been the refinement of his command and offspeed stuff.
As discussed in the following interview, Reed recently scrapped his changeup in favor of a split-fingered fastball per the suggestion of farm director Scott Servais. The 83-85 mph splitter [sometimes a tick higher] is a good fit for Reed's power arsenal, which also includes a hard slider.
Reed's slider is still inconsistent, but he has made some progress with it as a swing-and-miss pitch out of the bullpen this season.
The 23-year-old has the body, raw arm, and plus fastball that most Major League late-inning relievers possess. It's the development of his slider and splitter that will eventually decide his ceiling.
Jason Cole: To start it off, just talk about your first full season in the bullpen.
Evan Reed: It's like going back to college. You don't have time to do all your preparation in pregame or whatever. You just get into a rhythm and you throw when your team needs you. A lot of times, you'll have runners on that you don't want to give up, so it makes it that much more intense, which is why I enjoy it.
Cole: You haven't done any starting this season. When did the Rangers tell you about the move to the bullpen? Was it in Spring Training?
Reed: Yeah. When I got to Spring Training, Danny Clark pulled me in the office and just said that they were brainstorming. He said moving to the bullpen might help expedite my career. Obviously I'd done it before. I had a feeling that might happen with all of our really young, good talented players. I had no problem with it.
Cole: What were your thoughts at the time that it happened? Did it feel like kind of a demotion to you, or did you see it as a way that you could get to the Majors even quicker?
Reed: It felt like a way to get to the Majors faster. I always try to take the positive outlook. I don't think it was a demotion. It's a role that they see me having success in, so I was all for it.
Cole: You've been doing the closing and late-inning relief thing all year. Just talk about being able to come in late in the ballgame when the game is on the line. I know you've probably got some adrenaline going during those situations.
Reed: Oh yeah. That's the great thing about it. You can never really have a lapse in your mentality or in your concentration. As a starter, you have to sort of flip through some innings and you don't really have to bear down, but as a reliever, you don't have the luxury of doing that. It forces you to always concentrate, which is why I think I've had such a better year.
Cole: Yeah, how do you feel about your results so far?
Reed: I'm happy with my results. I still want to pound the strike zone more consistently—work in and out and throw my offspeed more. That's just what I'm here working on, and a lot of times in late situations, you've just got to go with what is working.
Cole: Have you been working on anything mechanically with your pitching coach, Dave Chavarria, this year?
Reed: Just being aggressive. Sometimes I get methodical and mechanical. This year, I just want to go in and throw the ball. Throw the ball downhill and challenge.
Cole: I saw one of your outings back in Modesto. It looked like you were throwing a splitter now.
Reed: Yeah, I'm throwing a split-fingered fastball. It's something to just get hitters off my fastball. Something for lefties. Because a changeup is a little more of a feel pitch. This I can just really rip on it and get that downward break.
Cole: When did you start throwing the splitter?
Reed: Scott Servais came into town about a month ago. We were in San Jose, and he just felt that I needed to have a third power pitch to add to my arsenal. He said it could really help my career. Since then I've just been working on it on flat ground and trying to bring it into games.
Cole: How often are you throwing it in games right now?
Reed: I try to throw it a couple of times an inning. It depends on where I am in the count. Oftentimes, I'm not going to throw it 0-0. My strike percentage dictates that.
Cole: Is that something you're only using to lefties right now or are you also throwing it righty-righty?
Reed: I'm throwing it to righties, too. Just change their eye level and give them something else to think about in the back of their head.
Cole: Last year when I saw you start in San Jose, you had a four-seam fastball, but you were getting a lot of armside movement on it. Now that you've moved to the bullpen, have you continued to get the same kind of action on the fastball?
Reed: Yeah. I've been getting a lot of run and sink, and I think that's just because I'm being a lot more aggressive with my mechanics in general. It probably just creates more spin and it's doing its thing.
Cole: How do you feel about your breaking ball out of the bullpen this season?
Reed: I like my breaking ball. The only thing is sometimes I need to be able to throw it for a strike behind in the count at a higher percentage than I do now. Other than that, I'm getting lots of swings and misses and ground balls. That's all I can really ask for. I've just got to trust it.
Cole: You guys would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. Talk about your expectations for yourself for the rest of the regular season and, hopefully, the playoffs.
Reed: I really want to win. I don't think our team has won in Bakersfield. I don't think I've ever heard of a winning record. Sometimes you want to move up or you want to succeed, but at this point, so many people have invested so much in this season, we all just want to win. We want to go to the playoffs and just prove that we can do it.
Cole: Being a guy that is in his second year here and you're having success, does going up to Frisco ever enter your mind?
Reed: Everyone wants to get promoted. But at the same time, there's stuff going on that we don't really understand. We don't really know everything that is going on. All I can do is just keep working hard and try to prove every time I get the ball that I'm ready. And if not, just help this team win and like I said, playoffs are the number one goal right now.
Splitter a better fit for Reed
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