Josh Reddick Finally Capitalizing on His Potential

When you’re labeled the future starting right fielder of the Boston Red Sox at a young age, and fail to do so, the word “bust” can be tossed around a lot. Fortunately for Josh Reddick, he’s not pegged as the future starting right fielder for the Boston Red Sox anymore. He’s in Oakland, and A’s fans seem to be a little more used to unfulfilled expectations. Yet, Reddick seems to have turned it around in Oakland this season, and shedded the “bust” label.

Reddick was drafted by the Red Sox in the 16th round of the 2006 rule 4 draft out of a Georgia junior college. In 2007, in his first pro season, Reddick tore up Low-A Greenville with a .306/.352/.531 line. Reddick once again began 2008 in Greenville, but he quickly earned a promotion to High-A Lancaster, and later to Double-A Portland. Across 3 levels he hit a combined  .311/.356/.544 to go along with 23 home runs and 14 steals. Reddick was on the prospect radar entering 2008, but his stock raised quite a bit after his strong 2008 season. Baseball America rated him as the 5th best prospect in the Red Sox system entering 2009.

The Red Sox sent Reddick back to Double-A Portland in 2009 and he did not disappoint. He had a .871 OPS in 63 games with Portland. He did show some signs of needed improvement as he struck out at a 21.6 % rate. Nonetheless, Reddick was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. He struggled in 18 games with Pawtucket, hitting  just .127/.190/.183. Despite his rough start in Pawtucket, the Red Sox called Reddick up on July 31st due to the loss of Adam Laroche in a trade with the Braves. He struggled in just 27 games with the Red Sox, hitting  .169/.210/.339 and posting a -0.3 WAR.

Entering 2010, Baseball America once again rated him as a top 5 prospect in the Red Sox system, this time moving up two spots to 3rd. He spent much of the 2010 and 2011 seasons shuffling between Pawtucket and Boston. Reddick played 116 games with Boston over the course of 2010 and 2011, and showed some promise. In 341 plate appearances, Reddick was worth just over 2 wins.

Here is what John Sickels had to say about Reddick during the 2011 season:

Reddick is a left-handed hitter and a right-handed thrower, 24 years old. All of his tools are at least average, and scouts like his bat speed and power potential. Although he’s not an aggressive stealer, he runs well, and the combination of his speed and throwing arm makes him strong defensively, especially at the corners.

I’ve heard different opinions about how “complete” of a hitter he is. Red Sox officials seem optimistic that he’ll produce across-the-board, as he’s doing on his current hot streak. Sources outside the organization aren’t quite as sanguine, projecting that he’ll hit for plenty of power, but concerned that his strike zone judgment will hold him back, that he’ll be streaky and prone to large fluctuations in batting average and OBP.

After the 2011 season, it became clear that the Red Sox wouldn’t be able to give Reddick much playing time going forward. He was blocked by a star-studded Boston outfield that included Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury. A trade would be in his best interest. The Red Sox were in need of bullpen help, so on December 28th, 2011, Reddick, along with two others, was sent to Oakland in a trade for Andrew Bailey. He was quickly named the starting right fielder for the upcoming season. That brings us up to today.

So far in 2012, Reddick has burst out as a leader of the A’s offense, and an All-Star caliber player. He leads the A’s in nearly every offensive category, and is on pace for over 40 home runs this season. Now, 40 home runs seems a little far-fetched, but I can see him hitting 30+ this season. He’s already halfway there, and the season has yet to reach its midpoint. He ranks 8th among all American League position players in WAR. He has been worth over 2 wins already this season, and Zips projects him to be worth about 4 wins overall. I’ll take the over on that, as I think Reddick will post a 5-5.5 win season. He has even shined defensively, with 3 defensive runs saved already this season in right field.

Despite all this, Reddick still has things to work on, but he is just 25 and he has time to figure it out. He is striking out at an 18.5% rate, and walking just 8% of the time. This shows signs of a lack of plate discipline. Reddick is batting .276, which oddly enough, matches his BABIP perfectly. His lack of walking has really hindered his on base percentage, which is just .338. A respectable number, but a little low for an all-star type player when compared to the league average. Plate discipline seems to be the determining factor between Reddick being an above average regular and an all-star caliber star.

You can follow Justin Millar on twitter at @justinmillar1, or email him at Justinmillar1@gmail.com. Comment below to join the discussion.

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Posted on June 4, 2012, in featured. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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