(Photo courtesy of the Saginaw Sugar Beets) Former Millington High School standout Brandon Reed was the starting pitcher for the Saginaw Sugar Beets during Wednesday's game with the Lima Locos at Dow Diamond in Midland. After posting a solid first season at Central Michigan University, the former Cardinals' first team all-stater has been named to the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League all-star game. The Sugar Beets lost to the Locos on Wednesday, 7-6.

(Photo courtesy of the Saginaw Sugar Beets)
Former Millington High School standout Brandon Reed extends toward home plate as he completes his pitching delivery for the Saginaw Sugar Beets in a Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League game against the visiting Lima Locos on Wednesday at Dow Diamond in Midland. Reed got off to a great start by retiring the first 11 batters he faced, but Lima eventually came away with a 7-6 win.


Sports Editor

MIDLAND — It’s sink or swim when competing in NCAA Division I baseball, but former Millington High School standout pitcher Brandon Reed has been doing more than just treading water for a while now.

The 6-foot, 1-inch left-handed pitcher recently completed his freshman season at Central Michigan University, and it was one that by all accounts exceeded expectations.

A former high school first team all-state selection, Reed was one of Central’s most dependable arms coming out of the bullpen. Leading all CMU pitchers with 23 appearances last season, Reed was 2-0 over his 25 innings pitched with a 3.82 earned-run average. He allowed just 25 hits with 45 strikeouts and 16 walks, limiting opposing batters to a .205 average and recording three saves.

Reed carried over momentum from a solid first collegiate season into his summer commitment with the Saginaw Sugar Beets, a new addition to the now 14-team Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League. Many family members and friends of Reed’s got the opportunity to see first-hand how much his game has grown since graduating from Millington when Reed started for the Sugar Beets in a high-profile matchup with the Northern Division leading Lima Locos on Wednesday at Dow Diamond.

Adding to the anticipation of his appearance was the fact that Reed had just learned through his coach that he was one of six Sugar Beets picked to play in Tuesday’s 7:05 p.m. GLSCL All-Star Game at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio. The festivities leading up to the all-star game will include a scout showcase that’s considered the payoff for being chosen as an all-star.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” said Reed of being named an all-star. “It’s exciting to know I was picked as one of the league’s top players.

“That was my goal, and I just hope to keep improving so that I can continue to do well at Central (Michigan).”

The dream of potentially making it to pro ball like his father Brandon Reed did as a Detroit Tigers’ farmhand for seven seasons starting in 1993 is something that’s never far from the mind of the younger Reed.

“I’m trying to have a (pro) future in baseball, and that’s a huge opportunity to be seen by scouts,” said Reed.

Over his seven appearances thus far with the Beets — all starts — Reed has gone 3-3 over 41 innings with a 3.95 ERA. He’s allowed 37 hits, walked 18 and leads the league with 45 strikeouts.

“He’s one of the best, if not the best, pitchers in our whole league,” said Sugar Beets’ manager Kyle Floyd of Reed. “We’re in every game that he throws, so he’s earned the right to play in the all-star game.

“He threw great out of the ‘pen at CMU, and he’s lived up to and exceeded my expectations,” he added. “We had a seven-game win streak that he threw twice in, so he’s a big reason why we kept it going. He’s been our go-to guy.”

Until coming out of the bullpen for the Chippewas, Reed had always been a starter, where he says he is and always has been most comfortable. That doesn’t mean it’s a problem for him to continue pitching out of the bullpen if that’s what newly hired CMU baseball coach Jordan Bischel believes is best for the team.

“I’m trying to prove myself as a starter,” said Reed. “I don’t have a problem with the relief as long as I can help us win games, but becoming a starter would be that much better for me, and getting an opportunity to start at Central Michigan would be huge.”

Although Reed got off to a great start by retiring the first 11 batters he faced on Wednesday, adversity soon followed in the form of a two-run error he did his best to pitch around. Saginaw went on to fall 7-6 despite a two-run homer by Cooper Marshall in the ninth inning that cut the Sugar Beets’ deficit to one.

Reed lasted 7 1/3 innings and gave up four earned runs on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts in taking the pitching loss. Marshall led Saginaw’s bats, going 2-for-3 with four RBIs and two runs scored while Central Michigan’s Gaosh Williams added two hits and scored twice.

Last year’s league champions, the Locos will send a league-leading 10 players on to play in the all-star game. They’ve sent 13 players on to the pros in their organization’s history, including former Cleveland Indians’ manager Eric Wedge and current players Craig Stammen (Washington Nationals), Chad Jenkins (Toronto Bluejays) and Jeff Kunkel (Detroit Tigers).

Reed said it helped having the experienced game-calling abilities of Michigan State University catcher Adam Proctor to work with when facing the Locos from the mound for the second time this season.

“We stuck with the fastball more and made guys have to prove themselves before switching to the off-speed stuff to try to get guys out,” said Reed of what was an improvement over his first outing against the Locos.

The Lima win evened the season series between the teams at 2-2.

Also selected for the all-star game from Saginaw are Western Michigan’s Marshall and Connor Charping, Davenport’s Noah Marcoux, Proctor and Northwestern Ohio’s Ryan Jungbauer. Marshall was selected as a starter while Reed, Proctor and Charping were chosen as backups and Marcoux and Jungbauer as alternates.

After a Thursday road doubleheader sweep of the Licking County Settlers, the Sugar Beets improved to 17-13 and are just two games back of Lima (18-10) as they currently occupy third place. Today’s road doubleheader with the St. Clair Green Giants, currently second in the Northern Division at 18-11, is key as the Sugar Beets will have just nine games remaining after the all-star break to look to remain in playoff contention.

The top three teams from each division will form a six-team playoff bracket.

Wood, Tagget updates

A pair of former Frankenmuth High School standouts are also members of the Beets in utility player Brady Wood and reliever Jack Tagget.

Wood was a junior at Adrian College this past season while Tagget was a sophomore at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Wood is batting .317 with a homer, 13 RBIs, 22 runs scored and seven stolen bases.

“You won’t see a guy hustling harder than him,” said Floyd of Wood. “We’ve used him at second base, shortstop, third base, center field, right field and left field.

“Offensively, he’s taken what we’ve been preaching to him and run with it,” he added. “He’s been one of our most consistent bats.”

Tagget has made 10 appearances out of the bullpen for Saginaw and is 1-1 with a 5.78 ERA compiled over 9 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and six walks.

“He’s gained about three to five miles per hour (on his pitching velocity) since being here,” said Floyd of Tagget. “He has some pro-caliber stuff, with a really good hand-speed slider.

“He’s got a presence out there, which is something you can’t teach. He’s been very good for us.”