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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Boston Red Sox Pitching Prospect Reed Reilly Has His Eye on the Major Leagues

Baseball teams can never have too much pitching. Consequently, there is an annual arms race to see who can draft, sign and trade for the hurlers that will hopefully create the indomitable staff needed for a true run at the World Series. In particular, the Boston Red Sox place great emphasis on this part of their team building, and one of the youngsters they have invested in is right-hander Reed Reilly.

Following a stellar career at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, California, Reilly enrolled at Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo and became the school’s closer. In three seasons, he compiled a record of 10-6 with a 2.29 ERA and 27 saves over 85 relief appearances. This included a school-record tying 14 saves during the 2013 season. It was enough to get him selected in the 18th round of that year’s draft by the Baltimore Orioles. However, he declined to sign and went back to college for one more year.

Reilly’s decision to go back to school paid off, as Boston chose him in the seventh round of last year’s draft. Thus far, he has primarily worked as a starter during his professional career. He posted a 3.89 ERA in 10 starts last season with Low Single-A Lowell. This year, the 23-year-old has pitched for Single-A Greenville and gone 4-3 with a 4.26 ERA in 19 games (12 starts). He has shown superb control, striking out 55 batters and walking just 13 in 88.2 innings. More information about his statistics is available here.

Throwing in the low 90s, some scouting reports indicate he may ultimately find his greatest success out of the bullpen. However, he is still young and has time to work on his craft to see where he truly fits.

This past offseason, I had a chance to catch up with Reilly (On Twitter at @Reeder_41) and ask him the following questions about his baseball career.

Reed Reilly Interview:

Who was your favorite team and player when you were growing up, and why?: Growing up I was a diehard Mets fan. My family is from the New York/ New Jersey area, so I was raised watching all of their games and hating the Yankees. Anytime they were out in LA or San Diego, we would always go to see them play. My favorite player was always Robin Ventura. I was a left-handed batter and right handed thrower just like him and played third base as well. I would try to model myself after him in all aspects of the game.

How did you end up playing college ball at Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo?: I actually did not know about Cal Poly SLO at all until my junior year of High School. I went to a showcase at USC and that's the first time they came in contact with me. I took a visit up there my senior year and fell in love with the town and ended up being a recruited walk-on. Best decision of my life to spend my four years up there playing for amazing coaches who took our program to the next level in recent years.

If you did not start a career as a professional ballplayer, what field do you think you would have entered?: If I wasn't a baseball player I definitely would be involved in something sports related. I love all sports and would probably have been a scout or agent of some sort.

How did you first find out that the Red Sox were interested in you, and what was your draft experience like?: I actually went through the draft process twice; this past year and the season before that. One of the main teams I talked to both years was the Red Sox, so I always had a feeling that they would be the team to take me. It was an honor that such a storied franchise had enough interest to draft me and I am forever grateful.

You were primarily a reliever in college; do you feel that is your future, or are you better suited for starting?: To be honest it doesn't matter as long as I am pitching. I loved being a closer in college and being in big situations, but also being able to start at the pro level was an amazing experience as well. I enjoyed facing the lineup multiple times through and figuring out how to approach each batter and setting them up in different ways. I would love to start as long as I can because I know that I can always fall back on coming out of the pen.

What pitches do you throw and which do you believe needs the most work?: I currently throw a four and two-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and splitter. I have always felt more comfortable with a splitter over a changeup. Definitely my slider and curveball could use more work, especially getting use to the lower-seam baseballs in pro ball compared to college. As this past summer season went on I became more and more comfortable but can always improve each pitch.

Who is one hitter from any time in baseball history that you would like to face, and how would you approach the at-bat?: Any batter that I could face would definitely be Mike Piazza. I would try to go right after him with my fastball and lock him up inside and then to finish probably slider or something soft low and away. He was one of the most exciting and dominating hitters for me to watch as a kid.

If you don't mind sharing, what is something that you treated yourself to after signing your first professional contract?: I actually still haven't made any big purchases since signing, but I am looking into getting an car. I put most of what I got into stocks and bonds, but I will definitely be treating myself and my family to something hopefully in the near future. 

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

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