Collegiate Baseball’s National Player Of Year

AJ Reed Kentucky action newBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

LEXINGTON, Ky. — After one of the most amazing seasons in college baseball history, University of Kentucky junior LHP/1B A.J. Reed was named Collegiate Baseball’s National Player of The Year.

Through the end of the regular season, he had belted 23 home runs to lead the nation and hit more homers than 193 out of 296 teams in NCAA Division I.

The lefthanded hitting Reed also hit .351 with 17 doubles and 70 RBI.

Reed not only led the nation in homers but slugging percentage (.768) and OPS (1.259)

He was attempting to become the Southeastern Conference’s first triple crown winner since Rafael Palmeiro in 1984 as he led the league in home runs (11 more than the closest player) and RBI (12 more than the next hitter) while ranking third in SEC batting average which was just behind Jordan Ebert of Auburn who was hitting .353 as the regular season concluded.

When you consider that Reed was 0-7 against SEC teams last season as a pitcher with a 4.35 ERA in 10 starts, his pitching achievements this year are even more staggering.

He posted a 9-1 record in the SEC this season and an 11-2 mark overall with a 2.10 ERA. It could be the greatest SEC turnaround of a pitcher in history.

The great disappointment of his sophomore year as a pitcher was tremendous motivation for him to work harder than he ever has to become better.

And it started last Fall as he dropped 25 pounds from a 6-foot-4, 260-pound frame.

He worked his tail off to get into the best playing weight of his life which translated into unparalleled success for him this season.

“I went on a strict nutrition regimen as I cut out a lot of carbs,” said Reed.

“I came in every morning and did cardio workouts with our strength coach Monday-Friday. I did that all Fall and Winter and lost about 25 pounds as I slimmed down from 260-235 pounds.

“I was in the best shape of my life which allowed me to throw longer in games.

“By slimming down, it helped my pitching and hitting. I noticed more bat speed as a result of this work.”

Reed said that he also worked extremely hard in the off-season to have a more repeatable delivery.

“My goal was to make every pitch feel the same and have the same release point for all my pitches so they would be more difficult to hit for batters. Then every pitch out of my hand would look the same to them since I wasn’t releasing one pitch different than another.

“Two other important ingredients were keeping pitches down and working off my fastball. Also throwing three pitches consistently for strikes was a big change from last season when I was 0-7 in the SEC.

“This year, my changeup has been much better, and I can throw it on both sides of the plate on any count to both left and righthanded hitters. I have a new curve this year which is thrown harder than before. That makes hitters respect those pitches a bit more than last season. And having those two pitches working for me makes my other pitches better.”

Reed has five different pitches, including a 4-seam and 2-seam fastball, changeup, curve and cutter. He utilizes his 4-seam fastball more than the 2-seamer as he routinely fires it between 88-92 mph. His 4-seam fastball has enough run on it to be effective against hitters.

To read more about Kentucky’s A.J. Reed and how he put together one of the best seasons in college baseball history, purchase the June 13, 2014 issue by CLICKING HERE.