KANSAS CITY -- Chris Reed grew up about a half-hour away from Dodger Stadium and was a big fan of the team that played in it.
Then the Dodgers broke his heart.
"I was -- until they traded Mike Piazza away," said Reed, who was almost 8 years old when the All-Star catcher was dealt to the Marlins in 1998. "Piazza was my guy. And then I was just kind of in between. Like, I liked them, but not as much."
Reed didn't know whom to like after that. He jumped on the Angels' bandwagon when they won it all in 2002, jumped off, only followed individual players and, for a while, didn't have a team to root for.
Now, of course, he's a big Dodgers fan again. Because he pitches for their organization, and because that organization thinks highly enough of Reed to choose him as their representative for Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
"It's exciting," Reed said by his locker at Kauffman Stadium, where he suited up for the World team. "It's obviously a new experience coming into a new season, great city, and obviously a nice ballpark to play in. A lot of talent here."
And Reed, taken 16th overall out of Stanford in 2011, is among the talent, thanks to a season in which he notched a 3.09 ERA in seven games (six starts) at high Class A, then stifled Double-A hitters after a recent promotion -- posting a 1.20 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in five Southern League starts.
That success is a product of persistence, basically. Reed was a reliever during his three years of college, but insisted that teams only take him as a starter leading up to last year's First-Year Player Draft.
He just knew he'd be good at it.
As a marketing/finance/engineering major at a top-notch university, he felt he had the mental aptitude for it. And with a three-pitch repertoire that includes a mid-90s fastball, a hard slider and a solid changeup he hardly ever had to use, he felt he had the stuff.
This -- midway through his first full season of pro ball -- is the year he's finally able to prove it.
This -- while standing among some of baseball's best prospects in this glorified showcase -- is his "see, I told you" moment.
"You're always going to have people who don't think you can do the job, but the main thing is to believe in yourself," Reed said. "It's been a fun year, a lot of new experiences, and I've learned a lot just in this short time period, so I'm pretty happy with the way things are going and the Dodgers are a great organization in terms of developing pitchers. They have the right guys in place to help you out."
Reed was placed on the World team by virtue of being born in London, even though he didn't live there long enough to remember it. In his lone inning at the Futures Game, he struggled, giving up a single, a triple and a walk, making a critical throwing error and being charged with four runs (two earned) in the U.S. team's 17-5 victory.
Further proof that he's better off as a starter, perhaps?
"I feel like I get better as the game goes on," said Reed, the fourth-ranked prospect in the Dodgers' system. "In high school and then in college, I had a couple of three-inning stints where I felt I was more comfortable in the third than I was in the first, and I always felt like my arm just got a little looser and freer. That's why I just always wanted to start."
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 4:30 p.m. PT. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez.