08/13/11 12:25 AM ET
Dodgers sign top pick Reed
Lefty throws bullpen session at Dodger Stadium on Friday
By AJ Cassavell / MLB.com
As he fielded questions, one specific inquiry forced the 21-year-old lefty pitcher from Stanford to pause and re-examine his surroundings. He was asked if, a year ago, following two relatively ordinary college seasons, he would've envisioned himself standing where he stood on Friday.
"Not this," the 16th overall selection in the June First-Year Player Draft said, his eyes scanning the field and toward the upper decks at Dodger Stadium, where he went to games as a kid. "I worked hard to get here. You always dream about it. I didn't see this happening."
On Friday, Reed officially signed with the Dodgers for a bonus he said was almost $1.6 million. The two sides came to an agreement on Thursday, and Reed will report to Class A Rancho Cucamonga on either Saturday or Sunday.
A 6-foot-4, 190-pounder, Reed broke onto the scene in his third year at Stanford. Used primarily as a reliever, he finished the season 6-2 with a 2.56 ERA in 29 games. He limited hitters to a .211 average and struck out 52 in 52 2/3 innings.
Reed, who graduated from Cleveland High School in Reseda, wouldn't discuss the contract negotiations -- which were handled mostly by his father, Alan. Nor would he make any projections as to when he may be ready for the Majors -- assistant general manager Logan White said it could be as soon as 2013.
"I'm just gonna go out and pitch," he said. "They can handle all that other stuff."
And it seems the two sides seemingly handled the negotiations with ease.
It was a distant cry from the last time a Dodgers pitcher drafted in the first round was represented by agent Scott Boras. In 2005, Boras represented Luke Hochevar out of Tennessee, and the two sides never reached an agreement as negotiations between White and Boras turned contentious.
Both White and Boras said this year was much different.
"There are some times when you negotiate contracts over the years where your mindset about the value of the player is different from the team," Boras said. "This was not one of them. We all felt that, in his range, what was being offered by both sides was relatively close from the onset."
Reed, who sports a mid-90s fastball, said he is eager to get started at Rancho Cucamonga, generally considered a high starting level for a pitcher coming straight out of the Draft. He'll throw only one inning in his first appearance, but White said the plan is to have him throwing four or five innings by the end of the season.
In his only start during his junior year at Stanford, Reed struggled and was moved to the bullpen. But the Dodgers drafted him with every intent of making him a starting pitcher, which is what Reed wanted all along.
"I'm excited to be a starter," Reed said. "I feel like my body and my mentality is better as a starter. They're gonna do everything in their power to help me get there."
White said his projection of 2013 for Reed would have likely been earlier had the organization drafted Reed to be a reliever. But he added that Reed's value to the organization is much higher as a front-end starter, and from what he's seen, that's exactly what he projects Reed as.
He even went as far as using current Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, in noting the similarities in velocity and repertoire of pitches between Reed and his fellow southpaw.
"The fact that he's got three pitches makes me believe, especially with his mechanics and arm action, that he can start," White said. "We'll see him up in the big leagues as a starter. We know he can come in out of the bullpen, but we would rather have him up here as a starter."
The scout who signed Reed, Orsino Hill, said he thought Stanford made a mistake by not using Reed as a starter. Had the school done so, he said it would have been a favorite to win the College World Series.
"They don't grow on trees," Hill said, referring to lefties with mid-90 fastballs that can command three pitches.
Hill said he understands his job as a scout is to break down pitchers' velocities, tendencies and mechanics. But the last, and most important, thing he does when evaluating pitchers is to put himself in the shoes of a batter.
"I put all that aside, and I give it the eye test," the former left-handed hitter said. "And I always say, 'Would this guy give me trouble?' I'm not saying he would get me out, but I know for sure I wouldn't want to face him.
Reed throws a fastball, slider and changeup, and his three pitches were were on display on Friday as he threw a bullpen session during batting practice. Manager Don Mattingly even ventured out behind the left-field fence to watch Reed throw. He stood in the bullpen's batter's box to get a look at what Reed had to offer
"I started off a little wild," said Reed, who was pitching in Dodger Stadium for the first time since he was a high school junior. "But then [Mattingly] came in, and I didn't want to touch him. It would have been a media fiasco."
Alan Reed was on hand Friday for Reed's introduction at Dodger Stadium. But it was nothing new for the Reed family, which has been Dodgers fans for generations. Chris Reed's great grandfather supported the team when it played in Brooklyn.
"This is it," Alan Reed said when asked what it felt like to see his son donning a Dodger jersey in Dodger Stadium. "This is baseball to us. This is as big as it can get -- Dodger Stadium."
Since Reed was drafted, he has been working out and consistently throwing, noting his biggest focus has been on his upper body. He said that would help him make the transition to becoming a starting pitcher.
"He's been anxious with that whole negotiating period the last couple of months, so he just wants to play ball," Alan Reed said. "It sounds too simple, but he just wants to play ball."
Alan recalled taking Chris to games when Chris was a kid. His favorite memory was watching Chris scarf down Dodger Dogs. Chris, who won't be eating Dodger Dogs any time soon, having given up hot dogs for healthier foods, said he always teetered on the fence as a fan growing up in Southern California.
"Angels and Dodgers fan, I sort of liked both teams," he said before a grin broke out across his face.
"Now, I'm a die-hard Dodgers fan, though."
Teams have until 9:01 p.m. PT on Monday to come to terms with their draftees, meaning official notification has to be in the Commissioner's Office when the clock strikes midnight ET. A team that does not sign its first- or second-round pick will receive a compensatory pick in the 2012 Draft. That selection will come at the same slot, plus one. In other words, if a team doesn't sign the No. 9 overall pick, it would receive the No. 10 pick -- technically 9A -- the following year. A team does not receive a 2012 pick if it does not come to terms with a selection made with a compensation pick this year.
A.J. Cassavell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.