From Reddit to Reds? Pitcher takes first step

June 13th, 2021

There Hayden Shenefield was, still hoping to keep his baseball dream alive after going undrafted out of Cal State Northridge and toiling for two seasons between three different independent leagues. A year earlier, the right-hander was coming off a 2019 campaign in which he posted a 6.84 ERA between the Windy City ThunderBolts (Frontier League) and the Celburne Railroaders (American Association)

Not exactly inspiring stuff for a professional baseball hopeful.

Then Shenefield turned things around, finishing the pandemic-shortened 2020 season with a 1.71 ERA over 11 appearances with the All-American Baseball Challenge league's New Jersey Jackals.

Last month, Shenefield saw that Kyle Boddy, director of pitching for the Reds and founder of Driveline Baseball, was having an Ask Me Anything(AMA) session on Reddit. He figured: Well, why not ask Boddy if he'd take a chance on a 26-year-old undrafted free agent with some pretty good stuff?

That's what Shenefield did, and on Saturday night in Bradenton, Fla., he made his affiliated Minor League debut for the Reds' Low-A club, the Daytona Tortugas. In Daytona's 8-5 loss, Shenefield tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen, yielding two hits while walking none and striking out four.

Boddy was impressed with Shenefield's pitching arsenal, and an AMA chat on Reddit resulted in one of the most interesting signings in recent memory. It remains to be seen how Shenefield fares moving forward, but he's off to a great start and could become a great story.