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Cincinnati prospects give back to community

December 16, 2019

CINCINNATI -- For the fourth consecutive year, a group of Reds prospects took some time to lend a hand in the Cincinnati community before participating in the team's biggest event of the offseason, FOX Sports Ohio Redsfest presented by PNC Bank. Last Friday morning, 14 players split up between three

CINCINNATI -- For the fourth consecutive year, a group of Reds prospects took some time to lend a hand in the Cincinnati community before participating in the team's biggest event of the offseason, FOX Sports Ohio Redsfest presented by PNC Bank.

Last Friday morning, 14 players split up between three local organizations: Crayons to Computers, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy.

Tyler Stephenson (No. 7 on the Reds' Top 30 Prospects list, according to MLB Pipeline) TJ Friedl (No. 20), Nick Lodolo (No. 2), Jonathan India (No. 3), Jameson Hannah (No. 10) and Stuart Fairchild (No. 16) went to Crayons to Computers, a nonprofit school-supply store that has successfully distributed over $163 million worth of free school supplies to children in the Greater Cincinnati area who don't have the means to get their own. The players packed up hundreds of backpacks that will make their way to students throughout the region.

"It was great to be out there," said Lodolo, the seventh overall selection by the Reds in the 2019 Draft. "I had never heard of it before, but I really like the idea that they have going on there, and obviously, it's a big factor in the community.

Packy Naughton (No. 13), Tejay Antone (No. 29), Ryan Hendrix (No. 27), Lyon Richardson (No. 12) and Michael Siani (No. 8) visited with young patients at CCHMC. They played with the children and spent time in Seacrest Studios, where they took part in a game of Family Feud and answered questions while on air throughout the hospital.

The third group -- consisting of Tony Santillan (No. 4), Narciso Crook and Alfredo Rodriguez (No. 18) -- spent time with 30 students at the P&G MLB Cincinnnati Reds Youth Academy. They led the kids in baseball drills, taught them fundamental skills and signed autographs.

"If you saw me out there, I love having fun with the kids," Crook said. "Going out there and seeing them smile, just goofing around with them. Letting them know that we're people too -- sometimes they see us a certain way and think we can't really have fun, and I just like to show them that we are playing a game and we're out here having fun and enjoying this."

Following the three events, the Minor Leaguers congregated at the Reds Youth Academy for a tour of the facility and lunch. Vice president of player development Shawn Pender and Reds Community Fund executive director Charley Frank each spoke to the group about the role of the Academy and the overall importance of community outreach for Reds players in every level of the organization.

"It's something I've done honestly my whole life growing up," Lodolo said of working in the community. "The schools I've gone to have had us get service hours, so it's nothing new for me, but it always feels just as good to do it."

Following lunch, they all went back down to the ballpark for a tour of the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. For many of the players, this weekend provided their first look not only at Redsfest, but also at Cincinnati as a whole. Many of the younger players had yet to even see the ballpark.

"This is my first time being here," Lodolo said. "The closest I've been to here is playing in Dayton. When I signed and everything after being drafted, that was all out in Arizona."

After the Hall of Fame visit, it was on to the weekend's main event at Redsfest.

"This is my first time at Redsfest," Crook said. "Basically, from what all the guys are saying, it's going to be having fun with the fans and just giving back to a great baseball city. That's what I'm most excited for. It's a great baseball city and I'm excited to meet the fans, so that when I get here next year, they already know who I am. That's my goal."