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Minor League Ball Community 2015 Hitting Prospect of the Year: A.J. Reed, 1B, Astros

Timothy De Block

By vote of the Minor League Ball Community, Houston Astros first base prospect A.J. Reed was named 2015 Minor League Ball Hitting Prospect of the Year. Of 496 votes cast through 9:00 AM on Monday, September 21st, Reed received 196 votes for 29% of the tally. Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers placed second with 102 votes and 21% of the total. Minnesota Twins outfield prospect Max Kepler finished third with 66 votes (13%) and Texas Rangers outfield prospect Lewis Brinson finished fourth with 62 votes (13%).

All four prospects had exceptional 2015 seasons of course.

A.J. Reed led all of minor league baseball with 34 homers, hitting a combined .340/.432/.612 with 30 doubles, 127 RBI, and 86 walks in 523 at-bats between Lancaster in the High-A California League and Corpus Christi in the Double-A Texas League. A second-round pick in 2014 from the University of Kentucky, the 22-year-old Reed proved that his college hitting success was not a fluke and did not lose any production after moving from the hitter-friendly Cal League up to the more neutral Texas League at mid-season.

The 21-year-old Seager hit .293/.344/.487 between Double-A and Triple-A and has remained hot since being promoted to the major leagues, batting .379/.478/.603 in 16 games with the Dodgers. In prospect terms his ability to play shortstop makes him a better overall prospect than Reed, though the community felt Reed had the better overall season.

22-year-old outfielder Kepler hit .322/.416/.531 with nine homers, 18 steals, 67 walks and just 63 strikeouts in 407 at-bats for Double-A Chattanooga in the Twins system. 21-year-old outfielder Brinson hit .332/.403/.601 with 20 homers, 18 steals, 44 walks, and 98 strikeouts in 398 at-bats between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A.

The criteria for the vote was somewhat vague but this was deliberate and intended to create debate. The vote was not just "who had the best statistics". Overall prospect status including defense, projection, and youth also counted but how much was up to each voter.