CHICAGO -- By the time the 2012 season comes to an end, rookie Addison Reed just might be saving games as the White Sox closer.
In the interim, the talented right-hander saved the White Sox from being shut out from the 2012 MLB.com Top Prospects List, released on Wednesday. Reed checked in at No. 100.
This year's edition of MLB.com's Top Prospects list has expanded from 50 to 100 players. The annual ranking of baseball's biggest and brightest young talent is assembled by MLB.com's Draft and prospect expert, Jonathan Mayo, who compiles input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors.
It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upside, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLB.com's Prospect Watch, includes only players with rookie status in 2012.
Reed, 23, had an amazing 2011 campaign during which he made the rare jump from the South Atlantic League to the Majors. The third-round selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft worked in 43 Minor League games for Class A Kannapolis, Class A Advanced Winston-Salem, Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte and posted a miniscule 1.26 ERA over 78 1/3 innings. He allowed only 43 hits and walked 14, while striking out 111.
That strong performance earned Reed a September callup, after which he struck out 12 in 7 1/3 innings for the White Sox. Reed's small amount of Major League experience probably leaves him as more of a setup candidate in the White Sox bullpen to start the 2012 season but still a veritable lock to break camp with the team.
"He pushed the envelope a little bit, running the table in the course of a year," said Kirk Champion of Reed. Champion was officially elevated to Minor League field coordinator from pitching coordinator by the White Sox on Monday. "That gave him a window to go to the big leagues this year.
"Buddy [Bell] and [Nick Capra] did a nice job of pushing him when the time called for it. They had a plan for him at each level. They made sure he was getting multiple innings and challenged him later in the game. They knew when it was time to get him to the next level, and Addison took advantage and ran through four of them.
"[White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] or [general manager] Kenny [Williams] have to decide where he fits in," Champion said. "They may want to expose him gradually in earlier innings and then slide him later into the game."
The closer's job opened up for 2012 and beyond when Sergio Santos was traded to the Blue Jays during the 2011 Winter Meetings. Veteran hurlers Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton will probably get the first shot at filling the closer void early, while Reed simply focuses on getting to Texas with the team from his first Spring Training.
Little doubt exists, though, as to what job Reed wants to handle in the future. Add in a fastball touching 98 mph, coupled with a slider and a changeup, and Reed could quickly become a late-inning force on the White Sox and fulfill a lifelong dream.
"To say he's going to close on April 6 might be a stretch, and they will get a better feel for his makeup during Spring Training," Champion said. "I think he's strongly in the mix to be a guy who breaks with the club, and from that point, it's their decision to look at matchups and see where he fits. But he's shown he's not afraid to pitch past 9:30 at night."
"My thought process is to go to Spring Training and put myself in the best possible position to make the team," Reed told MLB.com during a recent phone interview from his home in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. "Whatever happens after that is great. Right now, there's no guarantee I'll make the team out of camp, but eventually, I hope to close games."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.