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Rahier achieves dream thanks to Reds

CINCINNATI -- Each weekend for the past three springs, Tanner Rahier would pile into the car with his family to make one-or-two hour drives from their home in Indian Wells, Calif., to play as many as four baseball games over two days.

Rahier, an 18-year-old shortstop, was the second-round pick of the Reds on Tuesday during the second day of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. In terms of reaching his goal of being drafted by a big league club, it was a road less traveled since Rahier does not play for his high school team.

"My freshman year, I was starting on our varsity high school team, but it was a Division 4 baseball league in Southern California," Rahier said. "It wasn't the best baseball."

So Rahier instead honed his talent with a select club team at Amateur Baseball Development, or the ABD Academy, in San Bernadino. ABD was a training ground for current Major Leaguers like outfielder Allen Craig of the Cardinals and Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson.

The decision to eschew high school ball might have cost Rahier in the short term. In several projections, he was marked as a mid-to-late first round pick. Others had him being picked at least in the compensation-round. Hence, there was some disappointment when his name wasn't called on television in either round during Monday's portion of the Draft.

"We were getting phone calls and it was falling into place like the mock drafts," Rahier said.

Rahier believed not playing at home for Palm Desert High School might have spooked some evaluators, even if it wasn't a premier talent factory.

"Scouts were curious about that because they are used to seeing high school kids play side by side against each other," Rahier said. "It was testy about whether they could trust it or not."

Essentially, Rahier fell in the Reds laps at No. 78 overall.

"We were a little surprised," said Chris Buckley, the Reds' senior director of amateur scouting. "I think it's probably because he's going to have to move off of shortstop. He's a little too big for the position. That's our guess. But he was a very high profile guy. We were happy he was there. We'll give him a chance to play shortstop, but he might be too big to stay there."

Buckley didn't believe there was any issue over Rahier not having the regular high school baseball experience.

"The competition is similar," Buckley said. "He's been in everything else, so it's not like he wasn't seen. And he's a Southern California kid."

Unlike many high school draftees, Rahier won't have to make the adjustment from the ping of aluminum bats to the crack of a wooden model. He's been swinging wood bats with ABD.

"It was a lot tougher than swinging a metal bat and hitting home runs all the time," Rahier said. "It got me game ready for the next level. It opened my eyes to the difference between metal and wood bats. We played 60 games a season instead of only 25-30 games in high school."

Rahier said there were also occasions when he faced junior college players and former Minor Leaguers fresh from being released that gave him more exposure to a higher level of baseball.

Currently, Rahier has a signed letter of intent to attend and play college ball for the University of San Diego. In the wake of being selected by the Reds, he was leaning towards turning pro, but it was far from a final decision.

"I will talk to my family about college but I most likely will go play," Rahier said. "It's a dream come true. But we're not talking to anyone yet. We must decide as a family first, and then I will tell my coaches second and then everybody else."

When Rahier was a nine-year-old aspiring ballplayer, he was taking in his first Major League game at Safeco Field as the Mariners played the Red Sox -- his favorite team.

It was then Rahier had an encounter with then-Boston pitcher Bronson Arroyo.

"He was warming up over on the side by the wall and we asked if he could come over. We got a picture with him," Rahier said. "My mom said, 'You could be playing with him someday.'"

Arroyo, of course, has been become a fixture in the Reds starting rotation since 2006. Being 35, Arroyo would have to stick around for three or four more years to make that motherly statement come true. Perhaps it's unlikely, but you never know.

For now, Rahier doesn't care. The bottom line is he was drafted.

"I think it's cool how it fell into place," Rahier said.

Cincinnati Reds