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El Segundo Adds Ace to Its Deck : Baseball: With a nasty curveball and ability to throw strikes, left-hander Dave Reed has emerged as the one of the area's top pitchers.

August 05, 1993|ROB FERNAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dave Reed doesn't have a problem with teammates calling him Radar, a reference to his pinpoint control as a pitcher.

When it comes to pretentious labels, though, Reed draws the line.

"It puts more pressure on me when I hear people call me the ace," he said. "I hate that."

The ace. The man. The go-to guy. They all apply to Reed, a 16-year-old El Segundo High senior who prefers to let his pitching speak for itself.

Since March, the lanky left-hander has compiled a combined 20-3 record on El Segundo's high school and American Legion teams by relying on a curveball that Coach John Stevenson calls "devastating" and a quiet confidence that seems to build with each outing.

"I feel I can throw any pitch for a strike," Reed said. "It's all in your head. You have to believe in yourself."

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday August 6, 1993 South Bay Edition Sports Part C Page 9 Column 3 Zones Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Summer league baseball--Claremont defeated Westchester, 6-4, in the championship game of the American Legion Area 6 baseball playoffs Sunday. An incorrect score was reported in Thursday's section. Westchester finished with a 23-5 record.

He boasts a 10-1 record for the American Legion team, which begins play Saturday in the six-team state tournament at Yountville, north of Napa. El Segundo (29-7), the Area 4 champion, opens against Area 5 champion Marina of Huntington Beach at 9 a.m. in the double-elimination tournament.

Reed was the winning pitcher in two of El Segundo's four victories last week in the Area 4 playoffs at Blair Field in Long Beach. He pitched four innings in an 11-3 victory over Long Beach Wilson and three innings in a 13-2 blowout over Lakewood, leaving both games early with comfortable leads.

Last spring, Reed earned All-South Bay and All-Southern Section honors after finishing the high school season with a 10-2 record (9-0 in the Pioneer League) and an area-leading 1.20 earned-run average. His only losses were to Long Beach Wilson in the third game of the season and to El Rancho in the last, a 3-2 defeat in a Division III playoff opener.

Reed is arguably El Segundo's best left-handed pitcher since Scott McGregor, a former major leaguer who was perhaps the most dominant prep pitcher in area history, compiling a 51-6 record from 1969 to 1972.

Stevenson, El Segundo's coach since 1960, said Reed does not have the physical maturity or overpowering fastball that McGregor possessed in high school, but he believes Reed has a bright future in baseball.

"The key thing is how he matures," Stevenson said. "He's only 16, so he has time. He's not going to start throwing 90 miles an hour in one year, but he will pick up velocity in the next three or four years.

"His control and breaking pitches are not going to go away. His poise and composure are not going to go away. He's just going to get better as he gets bigger and stronger."

At nearly 6-foot-2 and 160 pounds, Reed acknowledges that he needs to add muscle. He plans to begin a weightlifting program after the Legion season in preparation for his senior year.

"I need to build up my (pitching) speed as much as I can," he said. "I don't overpower anyone."

Instead of blowing fastballs by batters, Reed survives on his control and curveball, a pitch he will throw even when he is behind in the count.

"That's his bread and butter," Stevenson said. "He will throw it 3-and-0 for a strike. It's a very late-breaking curveball that breaks down, as well as across (the plate). It's something you don't see very often."

West Torrance High Coach Harry Jenkins, whose team lost twice to Reed last season, agreed that Reed's curveball sets him apart from most prep pitchers.

"Left-handers who throw that breaking ball across the plate are at a premium," Jenkins said. "If he had great velocity, he'd be a real top prospect. But I think he'll be a real effective college pitcher."

Reed said he has received recruiting letters from USC, Pepperdine and the University of Nevada.

Before this year, though, the thought of playing college baseball some day was the last thing on Reed's mind.

"I was just hoping to make the (varsity) team and get a few innings," he said.

Instead, Reed has become El Segundo's workhorse. He pitched 70 innings for the high school team, striking out 92 and walking 39, and he has pitched 59 innings for the Legion team, an older group of players that includes recent graduates and college freshmen. He has 65 strikeouts and 24 walks.

Reed's 2.61 ERA this summer would be considerably lower without his one loss, a 13-0 shelling by Claremont last month in a tournament at Miles City, Mont. Reed gave up nine runs and nine hits in three innings before being relieved. Claremont won the Area 6 championship Sunday with a 21-5 victory over Westchester to advance to the state tournament.

"If he doesn't get an umpire who gives him his pitches, he's hurting," Stevenson said of Reed's uncharacteristic performance against Claremont. "That happened in that particular game, but (Claremont) was also very good."

Fortunately for El Segundo, Reed showed no ill effects after the lopsided defeat. The pitcher's composure and consistency are prized by Stevenson.

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