(Note: This is part one of a two-part
interview. Part two will appear in this space next week.)
That is a phrase easily tossed around when talking about
prospects, but true five-tool players are hard to find. Frederick Keys
(Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) outfielder Keith
Reed is one such player.
Selected in the first round (23rd overall)
by the Orioles in the 1999 draft, the 22-year-old Reed was taken with the
compensation pick forfeited by the Cleveland Indians for the signing of
Roberto Alomar. So far, so good. Reed clubbed 19 home runs to go along
with 90 RBI's and 29 stolen bases between Delmarva and Frederick last year
to establish himself as the Orioles' top prospect (well, actually number
twobehind Richard Stahl on this site, but number one just about
everywhere else). Unfortunately, he has been sidelined for much of the
first half of this season with a hand injury, but he recently returned to
the active roster and is poised to have a big second half.
first happened about a month ago," said Reed, speaking of the
aforementioned injury. "I swung through a ball and struck out and felt a
little twinge in my hand. The next day, I couldn't even turn my (car's)
steering wheel, it was that bad. So I missed three games and then taped it
up. It was still hurting a little bit, but I just played through it. I was
doing alright, and then, every once in a while, it got to the point where
it was affecting my swing.
"I was getting fastballs down the middle
and I just couldn't hit them. It just got to a point where I'm like 'You
know what, I'm just throwing at bats away'. So they put me on the D.L.
Hopefully it will get better. It really did."
In addition, Reed
mentioned that he recently received a cortisone shot to help facilitate
his return to the Keys active roster for the final few games before the
All-Star break, and he is ready to put the injury behind him.
course, part of being a professional ballplayer is being able to deal with
adversity while remaining strong mentally, so how has Reed coped with
being on the sidelines for a few weeks?
"It gets kind of
frustrating. Honestly, the first two days I had off, I was like 'Oh, a
nice little rest'. But then I just really wanted to get back in there and
play. I'm sitting there every day and I'm like 'I wish I was up there. I
wish I was doing this'. You know, I want to be out there.
"I mean, hey, we're doing well, I'm happy
about that. If we were struggling, losing by one run or two runs,
something like that, then I'd be really mad, because I would feel like
maybe I could be that guy who picks up those 2 RBI's that game. But right
now we're doing well (the Keys are going down to the final weekend with
the Wilmington Blue Rocks in a battle for the first half title in the
Carolina League's Northern division). I still want to be in there. I can't
wait (until) it's feeling all better so I can get back in
start swinging, because that's when it's even more fun."
the game has certainly been a lot of fun for Reed over the last few years.
Largely unknown in prospect circles until the spring of his junior year at
Providence College, he made himself into a first round pick and then
established himself as a top prospect upon entering professional baseball.
In a sense, Reed has gone from nobody watching him to having people follow
his every move.
"Really, it's not that big of a
difference. I've played the game hard since my freshman year. If I wasn't
noticed, then I'm still just going to go out and play as hard as I can and
get noticed, and that's what happened.
"Now, even if people are
watching a lot of the things that I do, it's not going to affect anything.
I mean, I'm going to play even harder because they're just going to put me
up on that, I guess, pedestal, I don't know. Just make me that top
prospect or something like that. I want to prove I deserve to be
"I mean, the first half of last season, I was batting close
to .300, had 11 home runs, 60 RBI's. Now, I've already missed 20-something
games...3 home runs and 14 RBI's. I don't blame it all on the injury, but
it's a lot to miss 20-something games, so...it's a little
Although Reed's statistics so far this season
are not up to his standards, it would be foolish to look at those numbers
and underestimate his talents. As anyone who has seen Reed play can
attest, there is no denying the fact that he has the potential to be an
All-Star-caliber player in the major leagues.
Moreover, it was
during his years at Providence College that Reed's major league potential
first became apparent. The 6'4", 215 pound right fielder from Yarmouth
Port, Massachusetts hit .405 with 17 home runs, 74 RBI's, and 14 stolen
bases during his final season for the Friars, numbers which helped him
garner Big East Conference Player of the Year honors for
Sadly, 1999 was not only Reed's final season playing for
Providence, but also the baseball program's final year of existence. After
78 years, the Providence baseball program was eliminated as a casualty of
Title IX, the controversial 1972 law intended to create gender equity at
institutions receiving federal aid.
"We found out one evening (in
the fall of 1998) -- two days before my birthday actually, October 6. I
heard it from one of the guys who worked in the Athletic Department, and I
was just like 'Whoa'. Then we found out at the real meeting. They had the
Athletic Director and everybody come tell us. It was tough. We had guys
"You got freshmen, sophomores, juniors not knowing what
they were going to do next year, where they're going to play. You got your
best friends right around there. So it was tough.
"We had our down time, but then we had a
team meeting by ourselves and we were just like 'You know what, if they're
going to take it away from us, let's show them
what a mistake they
made'. I think that's what we did. We left it out on the field every time
we played, because, you know, people always say 'play like this is your
last game'. So we went out and played like that was our last year, because
While Providence's loss to Florida State in the 1999 NCAA
tournament ended up being the program's swan song, Keith Reed's baseball
career was really just beginning.