"I thought it was going to be a lot worse, to be honest. It was like, 'I have to learn a whole new system and get to know everyone,'" said Reed, who was acquired along with Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb. "The first day I was a little quiet. The first guys I met were Joel Bender and Josh Smith, and we hit it off right there shagging BP. It was just like, 'We're friends.' It made it easier for me to talk to everyone, especially after I got my first start out of the way. Then it was back to normal. I just wanted to finish out strong and continue the decent year I was having."
Over 26 combined games in 2015, including 23 starts, Reed was 13-9 with a 2.41 ERA. In 145 2/3 innings, he gave up 127 hits and 42 walks while striking out 144 with a 1.16 WHIP.
After joining Pensacola, Reed posted a 2.17 ERA in eight starts, and his 60 strikeouts were the most in Minor League Baseball in that stretch. He allowed two unearned runs and struck out 17 over 14 innings in his final two regular-season starts.
Reds manager Bryan Price met the 22-year-old Reed for the first time at Redsfest earlier this month. Price knows of Reed's work from seeing video and via reports.
"He's a stud," Price said. "He was pitching all the way down through the playoffs for our club in Double-A, and our people just raved about him. I know the feedback we got from Kansas City. They just hated to give him up. It sounds to me that he's a mature kid for his age and he's a mature kid from a pitching standpoint from his limited experience in professional baseball, and a guy in our organization we definitely think could be an impact pitcher for us as a starter.
"We've seen Finnegan, we've seen Lamb, and I'm very excited about both of them. There's one more piece to that trade that could help us, and I anticipate him helping us at some point next season. I'm thrilled about three lefties. That's pretty sweet."
Reed is spending this offseason working out at his old high school in Southaven, Miss., outside of Memphis.
"My first offseason [after 2013], I slacked a little bit. I can't lie. I didn't take it as serious," said Reed, who struggled with a 5.46 ERA at Class A Lexington in 2014. "The last offseason, I was taking advantage of the time I've got to get bigger, stronger and faster. It's really helped me. I took my bullpen sessions way more seriously. It obviously showed in Spring Training with the Royals. It showed when I had success throughout the year."
Ranked the No. 10 prospect in the Reds organization by MLBPipeline.com, Reed hopes to compete for one of the three open big league rotation spots. He will be among the non-roster invitees at Major League camp.
"I'll do everything I can and hopefully get rewarded at the end," Reed said.