Ex-Cats

Former UK star AJ Reed gets first RBI in MLB debut for Astros

The Houston Astros’ AJ Reed, right, was greeted by Colby Rasmus greets after both scored on a double by Luis Valbuena in the second inning against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday, June 25, 2016, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
The Houston Astros’ AJ Reed, right, was greeted by Colby Rasmus greets after both scored on a double by Luis Valbuena in the second inning against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday, June 25, 2016, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Kansas City Star/TNS

Even though former University of Kentucky star AJ Reed didn’t come away with his first hit, he sounded pleased with his Major League Baseball debut on Saturday night.

Reed was 0-for-2 with two walks, two runs scored and a had a sac-fly RBI in his first game, which the Houston Astros won 13-5 in Kansas City against the Royals.

“It was a good game,” Reed told MLB.com. “I put a good swing on the two balls that were flyouts, but I felt like my at-bats were good and I saw the ball well. You can’t complain.”

Reed started well, drawing a walk on five pitches in his first time up. He scored on a two-run double by Luis Valbuena that gave the Astros a 2-0 lead in the second inning.

Reed got another at-bat in the second, as Houston took a 7-0 lead, but he flied out to right field.

He got his first major-league RBI on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, pushing the Astros’ lead to 9-1.

Reed lined out to left in his fourth time up, and he walked and scored another run in his final plate appearance.

It appears that the plan is for Reed to play a lot for the Astros.

“We’re really looking for an everyday first baseman in him and we don’t want him to come up and have to be relegated to platoon because it puts constraints on the roster and the manager, so if he can hit lefties, I think he’s going to be fine,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said in MLB.com’s report.

The Astros had confirmed Reed’s promotion on Friday night, even though it could not become official until Saturday. Reed, who was the team’s designated hitter, batted sixth in his first game.

“I’m as excited as anybody can be,” Reed said in a report posted on MLB.com early Saturday. “It’s a dream come true and time to take care of business.

“I feel like the last 15-20 days, I’ve made a lot of progress and I feel like I’m in as good a position I was at last year, and my swing feels really good. My pitch selection is really good right now. I feel like I’m the same spot I was in last year.”

Reed, who batted .266 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI in 59 games at Triple-A Fresno, had heated up in the past week.

In his last eight games, the left-handed first baseman hit .412 with three doubles, three home runs and seven RBI for the Grizzlies.

“We have a run here where we’re facing a lot of right-handed pitching and he’s swung the bat very well in Triple-A,” Astros Manager A.J. Hinch told MLB.com. “He’s played well the last week and really pushed his way into the opportunity. We’re at a perfect time in our schedule. … Getting Reed up here, he’s going to DH quite a bit, he’ll play first quite a bit. His offense could be impactful when he gets settled into the big leagues. Now’s as good a time as any.”

Reed was the Astros’ first pick in the second round of the MLB Draft two years ago after he won the Golden Spikes Award at UK as the country’s top college player.

“I’m going to tell him like I tell all these guys, there’s only one first day and he’s got to enjoy it,” Hinch said before Saturday’s game. “He swung the bat as well as anybody in the organization the last week to 10 days. It’s a big move for us, it’s a big jolt to the lineup. It’s obviously an important time in his life, but there’s only one first day. It’ll be cool.”

▪  Former Lexington Legend Jose Altuve was 4-for-5 with two doubles, a home run, three runs scored and three RBI. He’s batting .348 this season.

▪  Mike Fiers, who pitched for Cumberlands in college, pitched 4 1/3 innings for Houston. He gave up three runs (two earned) on nine hits.

Dennis Varney: 859-231-3514, @ExCats

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