Although Spring Training games are only exhibition contests that no one remembers come Opening Day, referring to them as “pointless” or “not important” couldn’t be further from the truth. Spring ball allows MLB players to work on skills that will greatly impact the upcoming season.
For Chicago White Sox projected closer Addison Reed, this spring isn’t about striking out every guy he faces, or being concerned about his ERA. Instead, the 24-year old reliever is working on the development of his off-speed pitches and the location of his fastball.
Going 29 for 33 in save opportunities in 2012, Reed will look to build off an impressive rookie campaign this year. Locating his mid-90s heater, along with having nasty off-speed stuff is Reed’s recipe for success. Most notably, the Sox closer will rely on his slider and changeup to fool hitters.
It’s obvious that Reed is locked in when he takes the mound, and that he has what it takes mentally to be a Major League closer. However, the fact that Reed is using Cactus League play to primarily work on the pitches that will hopefully make him an elite closer shows he’s wise beyond his years.
There is little doubt in my mind that if Reed is able to become completely comfortable with his slider and changeup, that he’ll be a league leader in saves in 2013.
In three appearances this spring, Reed has used both his slider and changeup “a bunch”, according to him. Knowing he has to have a second and third pitch to fall back on, Reed has admitted he’s not only using his slider and changeup more in camp, but he’s also becoming increasingly confident in those pitches.
Based off these comments and his overall demeanor, Reed is already on his way to being the White Sox long-term guy come the ninth inning. Look for Reed to continue to develop his pitches this spring, and ultimately develop into an over powering closer in the American League.
Matt Malecha is a Chicago White Sox writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattMalecha.