Prospects give back in 3 big ways before Redsfest

December 5th, 2022

With Bally Sports Ohio Redsfest presented by PNC Bank returning over the weekend for the first time since 2019, a large contingent of the organization’s Minor League players took some time Friday morning to lend a hand in the Cincinnati community.

Prior to the kickoff of Redsfest, 21 players split up between three local venues: Freestore Foodbank’s Mayerson Distribution Center, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy.

Andrew Abbott, TJ Hopkins, Joe Boyle, Cam Collier, Ricky Karcher, Alex McGarry, Connor Phillips, Christian Roa, Levi Stoudt and Brandon Williamson went to the distribution center. Freestore Foodbank is the largest emergency food and services provider to children and families in Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana. The organization, whose mission is to improve lives by eliminating hunger in partnership with the community and to create a hunger-free, healthy, and thriving community, distributes 37.7 million meals annually to low-income individuals and families.

The players assembled food boxes, known as power packs, to be distributed to residents in need throughout the region. Each power pack contains over a dozen food items, which are shelf-stable and kid-friendly, and helps ensure that students have something to eat on the weekends.

“It was amazing,” said Collier, a third baseman and the Reds’ first-round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. “I know kids in need back in my community in Chicago, so being able to help out similar people in the community here and know that us packing the food is helping them survive is a blessing. I’m just happy I could do that.”

Jay Allen II, Tyler Callihan, Rece Hinds, Casey Legumina and Lyon Richardson visited with young patients at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. They spent time in the Seacrest Studios, where they took part in a live broadcast that included games and questions from some of the kids.

“It was cool because they were streaming the show to all the patients in their rooms, so even though most of them weren’t with us, they could watch and interact,” second baseman and 2019 third-round Draft pick Callihan said. “It was a really cool experience.”

The third group consisting of Edwin Arroyo, Allan Cerda, Noelvi Marte, Sal Stewart, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Elly De La Cruz participated in a Q&A and baseball skills clinic with students from the Academy of Multilingual Immersion Studies.

Following the three events, all 21 players congregated at the Reds Youth Academy for lunch and a tour of the facility.

“This is my first time at the Academy,” Callihan said. “It’s absolutely incredible. I’ve never been to a place like this where you’re able to hit, field and throw all under one roof, with the netting to separate everything. And it’s even better knowing that they’re using it to get the urban community back in the game.”

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. This was the fifth consecutive pre-Redsfest outing during which Minor League prospects extended a helping hand, further solidifying the club’s commitment to developing major league citizens on and off the field.

After lunch, the group headed downtown to prepare for the weekend’s main event at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Except for Richardson, this year was each player’s first Redsfest experience.

Arroyo, a shortstop and No. 3 prospect in the Reds' organization, was acquired in a trade with the Mariners in late July. Not only was this his first Redsfest, but it was also his first time visiting Cincinnati. He was blown away by what he saw.

“It’s honestly really impressive,” he said. “I didn’t think there would be this many people here, so it’s been even better having a lot of fans and good people here. I’ve been enjoying meeting the fans and all the guys from the different teams.”