Reds pick Case has ties to franchise greats

Fourth-round selection has befriended Griffey Jr., met Rose, Bench, Larkin

Reds pick Case has ties to franchise greats

CINCINNATI -- High school shortstop Cash Case was still basking in the moment of being selected by the Reds on Tuesday with their fourth-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. Not only was Case taken by one of his favorite clubs, he already has connections to several of its legendary players.

As a kid growing up in the Orlando, Fla., area, Case met Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Barry Larkin. He's also befriended Ken Griffey Jr.

"He's one of my favorite players ever," Case said of Griffey. "I was out in San Diego with him for the All-American Game. We kind of became friends, because we both live in Orlando and both swing from the left side. Knowing these guys, and the Reds became a team I was interested in."

And that's just one Hall of Famer. Case also struck up a friendship with Cleveland pitching great and war hero Bob Feller when the Indians trained in Winter Haven, Fla. Before games, Feller often played catch on the field with a kid and threw ceremonial first pitches.

"It was so unique and awesome to go out there with one of the greatest pitchers before games and throw," Case said of Feller, who passed away in 2010. "I actually caught his last pitch ever that he threw at Winter Haven. It was a really special moment with one of the greats of the game. It just made me love baseball more, knowing this great pitcher and great guy. The old heroes of the game are what shape it to what it is today."

Case, 18, batted .451 (37-for-82) during his senior season at The First Academy High School. A former switch-hitter and a natural right-handed hitter, he now bats exclusively from the left side.

It's too soon to know what kind of professional career Case will have. But when he joins other Reds prospects to play this summer, he will definitely have one of the more diverse and interesting backgrounds.

Off the field, Case has played the guitar, piano and saxophone since he was six years old. For four years, he studied and became fluent in speaking Mandarin Chinese. Even after he stopped taking courses during his senior year, he kept up with the language on Rosetta Stone.

• Reds' 2nd overall pick: Hunter Greene

"I got really good at it," Case said. "Something like that would be very good for business down the road. It's something to have that not many people can say they have. It means a lot to me that I'm different than a lot of people."

On the field, Case followed a path that differed from many aspiring elite young players. He avoided travel baseball programs and participated in the Tigertown Tigers program at Detroit's spring facility in Lakeland, Fla. It was started by his father, Garrick, and Kevin Bradshaw -- the Tigers' former Minor League field coordinator and now the manager of the Orioles' Class A team in Aberdeen.

• Reds' 38th overall: Stuart Fairchild

The program produced Josh Lowe, an outfielder and first-round pick of the Rays last year.

"It's not like the normal travel ball and going out for tournaments," Case said. "It's something I did differently than a lot of people. It got to me where I am today, and I'm glad to say I did it differently."

• Reds' Day 2 picks

The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at noon ET.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.