Covid-19 threw a curveball to Bailey Reid’s baseball plans this spring just as his stock was rising with professional scouts.
But the Westmont College senior does have an ace in the hole as he waits out the quarantine: Westmont freshman catcher Simon Reid.
The two brothers aren’t taking the coronavirus pandemic sitting down as they shelter at home in McKinney, Tex.
“It really helps that I’ve got someone to pitch to,” said Bailey, the Warriors’ star closer. “We’ve got a home gym with everything I need to stay in shape.
“And whenever I want to pitch, I can force Simon to catch my bullpens — whether he wants to or not.”
Simon actually enjoys the extra time he’s spending with big brother these days. He doesn’t even mind the sting that his hand gets from Bailey’s mid-90s fastball.
“We’re best buds,” Simon said. “I actually pick on him a little because I know I can get away with it as his younger sibling. It’s all fun and games with us — we love each other.”
Bailey, a 6-foot-2 and 205-pound senior, had high hopes of getting picked in this year’s Major League Baseball Draft. He didn’t give up an earned run in 14 relief appearances as a junior while recording eight saves — three in one week alone during a series against Menlo.
Pro scouts had become even more interested in Reid this spring. The powerful right-hander had struck out 20 batters while allowing just three hits and no earned runs in 9 2/3 stellar innings. His four saves ranked 11th in the NAIA.
A strong pitching staff helped Westmont ascend to No. 17 in the NAIA national rankings before the season was curtailed.
“It was kind of tough having it end that way,” Bailey said. “We were on a hot streak and in a pretty tough series with Vanguard at the time. We had one of the best pitching staffs in the country, ranking high in strikeouts (No. 3 at 9.33 per game) and ERA (fourth at 2.93).
“It really sucks that it ended so quickly.”
The MLB Draft, meanwhile, has been pushed back a month to July. MLB and the MLB Players’ Association also reached a deal that includes the option of shortening the draft from 40 rounds to five, a move which would dash Reid’s chances of selection. He would be able to sign as a free agent, however.
“The coaches feel that I still have a good opportunity, especially since I do have a few connections,” he said.
Tony Cougoule, the Westmont assistant coach who converted him from a high school third baseman into a collegiate closer, took a position last November as a minor league pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs. Reid said he was instrumental in helping him develop a “go-to” slider and “more consistent body control and poise.”
“I’ve been staying in contact with scouts,” he said. “I had workouts scheduled with the Mariners and the Giants before the pandemic set in, and I was also going to have something set up with the Cubs.”
Bailey’s parents, Al and Dolly, moved to Texas after his graduation from Palos Verdes High School in 2016. Simon got to play one varsity, fall game with his brother during his freshman year of high school before becoming a schoolboy star for McKinney’s Boyd High School.
“I helped Bailey move in at Westmont during his freshman year and saw what a beautiful place it was,” Simon said. “I also took two recruiting visits there. I guess I was a little more familiar with the place than other recruits and that definitely helped my decision to come here.
“The last name also helped me get there — Bailey had a pretty good reputation.”
Simon, a left-handed hitter, became one of the few freshmen to ever start for Westmont at catcher. His brother was not surprised.
“He’s too good of a hitter to keep out of the lineup,” Bailey said. “Of all the catchers, he also looked the most relaxed behind the plate.”
Simon started 19 games behind the plate this spring, batting .333 with five doubles, a triple and two home runs.
The 6-1, 190-pound freshman said he would’ve come to Westmont even without the family connection, although “having Bailey there was icing on the cake.”
“What I like best about the place is that everyone is like family — the players and the coaches,” Simon said. “The coaching staff, coach (Robert) Ruiz and (Elijah) Ontiveros and the others, is so amazing. They treat you like their own kids.
“The players all get along so well, too. We’re like brothers on the field.”
One of them isn’t actually much like the typical sibling rival.
“Simon and I are a little different,” Bailey said. “We’ve never gotten into fights. We’ve gotten along our entire lives.
“It’s fun throwing live at-bats to him and having him catch all my games. He’s my best friend.”
And the most convenient partner for a quarantine.