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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reed Olmstead, Bad Swings - 754

The Greatest 21 Days caught up with Reed Olmstead in July 2012, read the two-part interview: Reed Olmstead, That Confidence

Also check out the revisited Reed Olmstead feature from October 2011: Reed Olmstead, Extra Innings

Reed Olmstead took part in a ninth-inning rally to pull the Orlando SunRays into a tie. Then, in the 10th, he came to bat again, hitting a game-winning grand slam. Still, Olmstead wasn't happy with his swings, either of them.

''I was just looking for something to put the bat on, trying to make contact,'' Olmstead told The Orlando Sentinel after the game. ''I didn't take a good swing at it (the homer in the 10th). Actually, the first time up (in the ninth) I hit a good pitch, and I swung terribly at that one, too.''

Olmstead was in the midst of his best season of his six in affiliated ball. He hit eight home runs that year, hitting .266. But those six seasons were filled with other bad swings, ones that ended markedly differently than those two with Orlando. He never made it above AA.

Olmstead was selected by the Cardinals in the second round of the 1986 draft, out of Blair High School in Pasadena. He spent three years in the Cardinal system, but never seemed to get any traction. He was sent directly to Johnson City. He played 58 games that year, hitting four home runs and batting .255.

On Aug. 3, 1986, Olmstead had a hand in a rare rookie league brawl. Fellow CMC setter Mike Walker brushed Olmstead back after giving up a three-run home run. The next pitch hit Olmstead in his hands. A brawl ensued, according to the account in the St. Petersburg Times, though Olmstead's role in the brawl itself wasn't mentioned.

But, after three years, it was time to move on.

''I feel comfortable now,'' Olmstead told the Orlando Sentinel in a July 1, 1990 article noting an Olmstead come back of sorts. ''All the years I was with the Cardinals, they worked with me so much that I didn't feel comfortable. I thought I was progressing, but the Cardinals didn't, so I asked for my release.''

After his release by the Cardinals, Olmstead caught on with the Phillies system. But he still hit just .238 with the Sally League Spartenburg team.

The Sentinel story on Olmstead's comeback included a not-so-ringing endorsement from a Phillies PR man. "We needed warm bodies at first base at the Class A level,'' Larry Shenk, vice president of public relations for the Phillies, told the paper. ''He became available, and Lee Thomas (Phillies' general manager) told me to sign him.''

Olmstead spoke to The Sentinel in the midst of his best minor league season in 1990. He hit .266 on the year. At the time of the July 1 story, he was hitting .293.

Olmstead spent part of 1991 back in Orlando, his batting average dropping below .200. He then caught on with Houston, playing the other part of the season at high-A Osceola, not doing much better.

Five years later, he's recorded playing in the independent Northern League with Thunder Bay, the next with the Prairie League's Regina Cyclones and Olmstead was done.
1990 CMC Tally
Cards Reviewed: 80/880 - 9.1%
Made the Majors: 46 - 58%
Never Made the Majors: 34 - 42%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 16
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 27

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