By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO

San Diego Padres minor league outfield prospect Buddy Reed is the personification of Major League Baseball’s urban initiative.  He is a former three-sport athlete who gravitated to baseball after being groomed in urban youth leagues before enjoying an outstanding college career. Reed will represent Team USA on July 15 during the Sirius XM Futures Game at the first event of 2018 All Star Weekend at Nationals Park.

The SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game features the top Minor League prospects competing in a nine-inning USA vs. The World contest.  The nationally televised game has become a platform where several current major league all-stars showed up to prove they were ready to shine on the big stage such as outfielder Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox , one of two African Americans who will start in this year’s mid-summer classic.

San Diego Padres minor league outfield prospects returns to the DMV as a member of Team USA in the Sirius/ XM Futures Game at Nationals Park starting MLB All Star Weekend. (Courtesy Photo)

Reed, a native of the South Bronx, New York started playing organized baseball for the South Harlem Reds of the Major Junior Baseball League. However, he is no stranger to playing competitively in the DMV. He was groomed to excel on the frozen pond while playing youth hockey at Fort Dupont Park for the Washington Little Caps in D.C.  Reed also played tennis and was on a path that would lead towards the ice early in high school while playing for St. George’s Boarding School in Newport, Rhode Island.  He ultimately earned a college scholarship offer from one of the nation’s top programs at Providence College but chose to pursue baseball instead.

The Reed family relocated 30 miles north of Baltimore to Finksburg in Carroll County town, which allowed him to intensify his baseball development when Buddy turned eight. As he grew into baseball, Reed took batting lessons while training at the Under Armour Baseball Factory in Columbia with other current minor league stars and played in the 2012 Team One South Showcase. Twenty players who trained with him during that time will also play in this year’s Futures Game.

“We’re not a baseball family,” Mike Reed, Buddy’s father told the {AFRO}. “Hockey was his number one sport but, things changed later during high school. I guess that’s where he realized he could be good enough to play at the highest level.”

Buddy also played for the Baltimore Dodgers of the Cal Ripken college league before heading to the University of Florida in 2013. The Ripken League allows its teams one high school prospect to compete against college players during the summer following graduation.  That summer was a critical season in his baseball development as he faced the caliber of pitching in the Southeastern Conference which is traditionally one of the best in college baseball.

“That was an eye-opening experience for him,” Reed said.  “I think it really helped prepare him for what he faced in college”.

It set the stage for him to become a vital contributor for the Gators who played in consecutive College World Series after his sophomore and junior years in 2015 and 2016.  Reed’s speed and athleticism helped him make an immediate impact when he stepped on the field at Florida.  He hit .284 and scored 28 runs as a freshman while collecting two hits as the Gators clinched an SEC Championship at Tennessee.

Reed left Florida as one their all-time greats developing a penchant for clutch performances in big games and becoming the program’s second player to earn all-SEC defensive honors before San Diego drafted him. His star is rising in the Padres system where he is batting .319 with 11 HR 45 RBI and 33 steals for their high A affiliate Lake Elsinore in the California League.