Astros ink power-hitting 42nd overall pick Reed

Astros ink power-hitting 42nd overall pick Reed

HOUSTON -- A.J. Reed was so eager to sign with the Astros, he went to the Lidz store at a mall in his hometown of Terre Haute, Ind., on Friday and purchased a blue Astros hat with an orange bill. He can buy quite a few more now after agreeing to a $1.35 million bonus and signing his deal Wednesday.

The Astros finalized a contract with the University of Kentucky slugger, who was taken with the top pick of the second round (No. 42 overall) of last week's First-Year Player Draft. Reed's bonus was the assigned value of the pick.

"I'm playing for a professional baseball team, and that's been my dream all my life," he said Wednesday when introduced to reporters at Minute Maid Park. "To be able to play for the Astros, that's one of the best things for me. I feel like what they need is what I have to offer. It was a really good opportunity to start my career."

Reed will take batting prior to Thursday's game against Arizona before heading to short-season Tri-City, where he will be the starting first baseman. Reed was also a standout pitcher at Kentucky, but he can focus on hitting now.

"I feel like I'll be able to progress a little bit and able to focus all my time on hitting is big for me," he said. "I've never done that before. It's going to be a change for me, and I'm excited about that, excited to see where it goes and see how much better I can get."

The 21-year-old Reed (6-foot-4, 240 pounds) led the NCAA in home runs (23), slugging (.735) and on-base plus slugging (1.211) as a junior. He also hit .336 (75-for-223) this season with 18 doubles, 73 RBIs and a .476 on-base percentage. Reed walked 49 times in 2014 and struck out just 48 times.

A two-way player in college, Reed was also Kentucky's Friday night starter and led the SEC with 12 wins. He was the Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year, the SEC Player of the Year and is a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which goes to the best collegiate baseball player in the country.

"He can hit the ball to all fields," Astros scouting director Mike Elias said. "He took a huge step as a hitter and made himself a more complete hitter. We think he's ready for the challenge of professional baseball and we're very excited to see what he can do for us this summer and going forward."

Reed is the first top 10 pick by the Astros to officially sign, though MLB.com has reported the club has reached deals with third-round pick J.D. Davis, a third baseman from Cal State Fullerton; sixth-round pick Brock Dykxhoorn, a right-handed pitcher from Central Arizona College; eighth-round pick Bobby Boyd, a center fielder from West Virginia University; ninth-round pick Bryan Radziewski, a left-handed pitcher from the University of Miami; and 10th-round pick Jay Gause, a right-handed pitcher from Faulkner University in Alabama.

"We're making a lot of progress very rapidly with most of the top 10 picks," Elias said. "Some of them won't officially sign until they officially report to their affiliates. We're not ready to report any of them until that happens and the entire process is complete, but I feel really good about our chances to sign every one of our top 10 picks and most of the draft class as a whole."

Brian McTaggart is reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.