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Chris Reed: Underrated Pitching Prospect?

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Former Stanford reliever Chris Reed was selected in the first round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft, with the 16th overall pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers signed the lefty fireballer fairly quickly, and he was able to make three starts at High A Rancho Cucamonga last season, where he pitched just 7 innings, giving up 6 runs on 9 hits while striking out 11 and walking 4.

Here is what John had to say about him in his Top 20 Dodgers Prospects for 2012 back in early December:

6) Chris Reed, LHP, Grade B-, borderline B: They'll need to proceed with some caution as they transition Stanford product from relief to starting, but I like his chances to develop into a number three starter.

John's B ranking was a bit of a surprise for me, but after Reed's early season performance, the ranking might be a little light.

More on Chris Reed after the jump:

Recently, Kevin Goldstein penned a piece over at ESPN discussing the possibility that the 2011 draft may be the best pitching draft ever. In the article, he discussed several pitching prospects including Gerrit Cole, Dylan Bundy (who needs a challenge), Archie Bradley and two pitchers who could see time in the big leagues real soon-Trevor Bauer and Danny Hultzen.

Goldstein also briefly discussed Marlins prospect Jose Fernandez, Braves prospect Sean Gilmartin, and two Red Sox prospects Matt Barnes and Henry Owens. But, not once did he mention Chris Reed, who is quietly having a very good start to the 2012 season, pitching in the high octane California League.

Reed has appeared in 5 games thus far at High A Rancho Cucamonga in 2012, 4 of which were starts (he did not start Friday night's game, but threw 7 innings). Thus far, he is 1-3 with a 3.41 ERA and 1.138 WHIP. He has thrown 29 innings, giving up 11 runs on 22 hits, striking out 32 and walking 11. The walks are a but high, but for a pitcher who made just two starts at Stanford, it's not that bad. At Stanford, he pitched in 54 games, striking out 67 and walking 34 in 75.2 innings, while saving 12 games.

Here is a look at the pitching lines for each of Reed's starts in 2012:

April 6: 5 IP, 5 hits, 3 ER, 6 K, 0 BB

April 11: 4 IP, 1 hit, 3 ER, 7 K, 3 BB

April 16: 6 IP, 3 hits, 1 HR, 3 ER, 4 K, 5 BB

April 22: 7 IP, 4 hits, 0 ER, 8 K, 0 BB

April 27: 7 IP, 9 hits, 2 ER, 7 K, 3 BB

It is certainly a small sample size, and there will be more bumps in the road as the weather turns warmer in the Cal League, but I have to say I am impressed with his performance to date. If you throw out his April 16 start, he has a 28-6 strikeout to walk ratio in 23 innings of work. Reed has rebounded from a bad start on April 16th with two solid starts in a row, where has gone 7 innings in each start. Quite surprising for a pitcher who started just two games in college.

Here is what Baseball America had to say about him in their Friday Prospect Hot Sheet, which he made due to his April 22nd start:

But he's got the stuff to be a big league starter, owning a strong arm from the left side and a quality slider. Once he proves his arm can handle the workload that comes with being in a rotation, he could start ascending quickly.

Reed isn't getting the press that Cole, Bauer, Bundy and Hultzen are receiving, but like Baseball America pointed out, he could start ascending quickly if he can continue to perform like this, especially if he can continue to dominate hitters in the Cal League.