A.J. Reed

A.J. Reed, who played 14 games with the White Sox in 2019, retired

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USA TODAY

A.J. Reed, who played 14 games with the White Sox in 2019, retired

A.J. Reed, the one-time slugging prospect who made his way to the White Sox last season, retired earlier this month.

The news went unnoticed by many, though there it is on the International League's transactions page: Reed, a second-round draft pick in 2014, retired on March 4. He's 26 years old.

The White Sox picked Reed up on a waiver claim midway through last season, taking a flier on a guy who had no trouble racking up home runs in the minor leagues. He hit 34 of them playing at two levels of the Houston Astros organization in 2015, 34 more at Triple-A in 2017 and another 28 at Triple-A in 2018.

But Reed could never make it happen at the major league level, and that includes in the 49 plate appearances he got in just 14 games with the White Sox in 2019. He picked up only six hits, including one home run, and struck out a whopping 21 times.

Reed did manage a highlight in a White Sox uniform. He moved over from first base and pitched in relief during the ninth inning of an 11-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins, retiring all three batters he faced.

He played his final game with the White Sox on Aug. 1 and spent the remainder of the season in Triple-A Charlotte.

In the midst of another rebuilding season, the White Sox were in position to take that sort of a low-risk gamble on Reed and see if they could help him discover something he couldn't at the big league level in Houston. Fans weren't happy watching him struggle at the plate, but that's life in the middle of a rebuild.

Thanks to breakout seasons from so many of their young core players and a busy offseason of big-name veteran additions, the White Sox don't figure to be in such a position again for the foreseeable future.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: A.J. Reed: 'It's good to be someplace where you feel wanted'

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: A.J. Reed: 'It's good to be someplace where you feel wanted'

Chuck Garfien and Ryan McGuffey speak with new White Sox slugger A.J. Reed.

Could he be the left power DH the White Sox have been searching for? (1:20)

Reed talks about why he feels relieved and reborn getting this opportunity with the White Sox (8:05), what's prevented him from being the major league player he wants to be (9:15), why the Astros gave up on him (14:00) and more.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

 

White Sox Talk Podcast

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A.J. Reed the latest White Sox attempt to get production out of the DH spot

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USA TODAY

A.J. Reed the latest White Sox attempt to get production out of the DH spot

To say the White Sox have struggled to get production out of the designated hitter spot this season would be a bit of an understatement.

The White Sox entered the second half of the season with their combined DH production ranking dead last in the American League in every major average. White Sox DHs are batting .177 (worst by 30 points) with a .277 on-base percentage (worst by 11 points), a .328 slugging percentage (worst by 64 points) and a .602 OPS (worst by 83 points).

Yonder Alonso accounted for a lot of that and is now with the Colorado Rockies after being released, but he only played 42 of the team’s 82 games with a DH in the first half of the season. Jose Abreu has DH’d 22 times this season, but even he hasn’t put up the same numbers compared to when he plays first base. Abreu entered Friday hitting .231/.311/.436 as a DH as opposed to .292/.318/.547 as a first baseman. Same goes for all-star catcher James McCann, who has a .466 OPS in his seven games as a DH.

Welington Castillo, Zack Collins, Jose Rondon, Daniel Palka and Jon Jay have also played as a DH at least a couple games this season and not one of them has been productive in the spot.

Friday’s 5-1 loss to the A’s featured a new DH for the White Sox: A.J. Reed. Reed was claimed off waivers from the Astros on Monday and he made his White Sox debut in Oakland. Reed had three flyouts before singling in his fourth trip to the plate in the ninth inning.

The 26-year-old was a second-round pick of the Astros in 2014 and surged up prospects rankings two years later. Baseball America ranked him as the No. 11 prospect in baseball while MLB Pipeline had him at No. 40 entering the 2016 season. However, things took a downturn that year.

Reed had a .924 OPS in 70 games in Triple-A in 2016, but hit .164/.271/.262 in 45 games with the Astros. He spent most of the next two years putting up decent numbers in Triple-A (.883 OPS in 2017, .850 OPS in 2018) with only three games in the majors.

This season, Reed, a lefty, was hitting .224/.320/.469. The power is still there, but this is the worst he has hit in Triple-A in four seasons.

For comparison, Palka is hitting .270/.376/.535 in Triple-A Charlotte. This is the same Palka who is 1-for-45 with the White Sox this year.

The White Sox took a shot on Reed to boost the abysmal DH production the team has had this season. His track record doesn’t provide much confidence that he will be any better than the rest, but it looks like the White Sox will give him a chance to show otherwise.

 

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