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White Sox taking close look at young reliever Addison Reed

Hard-throwing reliever AddisReed struck out 12 walked one 71/3 innings with White Sox last September. | LeHalip~Getty Images

Hard-throwing reliever Addison Reed struck out 12 and walked one in 71/3 innings with the White Sox last September. | Leon Halip~Getty Images

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Updated: March 29, 2012 8:12AM

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Addison Reed has been a strikeout machine during his rapid rise through the White Sox’ minor-league system. He has fanned 155 and walked 20 in 1081/3 professional innings, including 12 strikeouts and one walk in his 71/3 innings with the Sox last September.

Sounds like a closer if there ever was one.

Of course, it takes more than a hopping, well-located fastball and a devastating slider, both of which Reed possesses, to make a living getting the final three outs. But Reed sells himself on the mental side of closing, too. Anxiety isn’t an issue for him.

‘‘I don’t really get nervous before I go in to pitch,’’ Reed said. ‘‘I just want to get out there and throw. . . . Nerves are not an issue.’’

Reed is rated by almost all scouting analysts as the Sox’ top prospect, and his huge upside gave general manager Ken Williams the courage this winter to trade closer Sergio Santos to the Toronto Blue Jays for another good prospect in right-hander Nestor Molina.

The Sox drafted Reed, a native of Etiwanda, Calif., out of San Diego State in the third round in 2010. Closing is Reed’s passion. Former Los Angeles Angels closer Troy Percival was his hero as a kid.

‘‘Seeing him run out, music playing, everyone standing up, it was awesome,’’ Reed said. ‘‘That’s the thing I love to do, the thing I’ve grown up wanting to do. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a starting pitcher.’’

Reed, 23, breezed through three minor-league levels last season, but the Sox will be careful not to push him into the closer’s role coming out of camp. A likely scenario is Reed setting up for Matt Thornton or Jesse Crain, then sliding into the closer’s role as the season goes on.

‘‘We’re not talking closer now,’’ pitching coach Don Cooper said. ‘‘I’m talking about relieving [for Reed]. The closer thing, we haven’t had a game yet; we haven’t had BP yet. We’ll figure out who that guy is. It won’t be Feb. 27; it will be more like March 27. So hold on to that question.’’

Reed has electric stuff with his mid-90s fastball and sweeping slider. His changeup is a work in progress, but he’s more comfortable with the pitch after refining it during the offseason.

‘‘Last year, I got to the point where I could throw my slider in any count and to any location,’’ Reed said. ‘‘I got very comfortable with it, and hopefully I can pick up where I left off with it. It has good bite to it. It’s a little slow, not really hard, so it kind of acts like a changeup.’’

Cooper liked what he saw from Reed last season and what he has seen from him during his early bullpen sessions in camp. But he’ll wait before he makes him the next Percival. Or even the next Santos.

‘‘We definitely won’t be pushing him along too quickly,’’ Cooper said. ‘‘He has a team to make. This is his first big-league camp. He’s going to have to show us things he showed us last year. Us seeing him firsthand in Chicago — throwing strikes and [showing] that he wasn’t afraid and pitching well last year — gives him a leg up on guys. If he does those things here, he’s going to be on the plane [to Texas for Opening Day].’’

For now, that’s all Reed wants.

‘‘If I get the opportunity to close, it would be awesome,’’ he said. ‘‘But if I’m pitching in the seventh and eighth inning, as long as I’m out there pitching and doing well, I’d be happy. If I happen to close, that would be even better.’’

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