JMU roundup: Reid gets call from Pirates

Daily Staff Report – sports@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG — Thanks to a dominant beginning to his eighth professional season, right-hander Ryan Reid was poised to become the 12th member of the James Madison baseball program to reach the Major Leagues when he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates Monday evening to open a three-game series in Atlanta.

A seventh-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2006 (pick No. 199), Reid found impressive success this spring in his first season in the Pirates’ organization. In 20 appearances out of the bullpen with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians, he went 6-1 with one save while holding opponents to a 0.52 ERA and .164 batting average. He struck out 31 while allowing 20 hits and nine walks in 34 2/3 innings of work. The only earned runs he allowed came on solo home runs from a pair of left-handed batters.

Reid weathered a rocky professional debut after being drafted in 2006 as he went 1-9 with a 6.24 ERA in the short-season New York-Penn League after finishing his JMU spring campaign. However, he settled in with a 2.97 ERA in his first full pro season in the low-A South Atlantic League in 2007. He showed further progress with a 3-0 start and 0.29 ERA in the Florida State League in 2008 to earn mid-season All-Star accolades and a mid-season call to Double-A Montgomery. He was also named a Rising Star in the Arizona Fall League in 2008 while playing among some of the game’s elite prospects.

Reid spent the next two and a half seasons in Double-A with respectable numbers before the Triple-A Durham Bulls called in 2011. He spent his first full season in Triple-A in 2012, spending part of the season alongside former JMU outfielder Rich Thompson. Reid was 1-1 with a 4.55 ERA in 26 games with Durham in 2011 and improved to 6-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 46 games in 2012. He found a new opportunity with Pittsburgh in 2013, breaking ties with the Rays for the first time and posting dominant numbers.

In addition to becoming the 12th player in JMU program history to reach the big leagues, Reid will also be the only active Major Leaguer for the program. Thompson is still active professionally but currently with Triple-A Durham after appearing in 23 games with the Rays in 2012. JMU’s other Major Leaguers include Dana Allison (1991), Rick Croushore (1998-2000), Scott Forster (2000), Travis Harper (2000-06), Mike Hubbard (1995-2001), Brian McNichol (1999), Dan Meyer (2004, 2007-10), Larry Mitchell (1996), Billy Sample (1978-1986) and Mike Venafro (1999-2004, 2006).

After redshirting his first season at JMU, Reid posted a pair of stellar seasons in 2005 and 2006. He owns the best two-year strikeout total in program history with 200, ranking 10th on the all-time chart despite playing just two seasons. He is also second in JMU history with 10.25 strikeouts per nine innings.

Reid actually split time as a pitcher and outfielder in his first JMU season in 2005, going 3-5 with a 5.75 ERA and 76 strikeouts/21 walks in 81 1/3 innings on the mound. He also hit .210 in 81 at bats with five doubles and three home runs. However, he concentrated on pitching in 2006 and broke through with a 10-4 record and 3.43 ERA in 94 1/3 innings. He struck out 124 while walking 43 and holding opponents to a .228 batting average. His 124 strikeouts are the most in a season at JMU, sitting 19 ahead of second place, and his 11.83 strikeouts per nine innings for the season ranks sixth. He was the JMU pitching staff ace on a team that went 38-21 and won the regular season in the CAA.

The Pirates are currently tied for second in the National League Central at 35-22 and would receive a wild card spot if the season ended today. They own the second-best ERA in all of baseball at 3.16 while also posting baseball’s best opponent batting average at .223. Pittsburgh also ranks first in all of Major League Baseball in bullpen ERA (2.67), bullpen opponent average (.210) and bullpen WHIP (1.12). The Pirates are also second in baseball in bullpen strikeouts (189), third in bullpen innings (206) and second in saves (29).