Minors Report: Drew Stubbs

Minors Report: Drew Stubbs

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Who's that player wearing No. 86? Wait a minute. There's no name on his jersey. What's going on?

A sight that often confuses fans and makes a mess of any scorecard is when big league teams use players from their Minor League camp for a day, or several days, at exhibition games. But it doesn't mean they're part of the big league camp.

It's been a common Spring Training practice for years. A clubhouse employee will hand a young kid a very high-numbered jersey with no name on it before the game. After the game, the kid gives the jersey back and trudges back to the Minor League clubhouse.

But for one day, at least, he savored some of the big league life.

"It's great for us and great for their confidence," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I remember those days when they had phone booths in the locker room. I'd go right to the phone booth and call my dad to tell him what I did."

Outfielder Drew Stubbs, the Reds' first-round Draft pick in 2006, saw his first action in a big league exhibition game on Tuesday. He got into two games last spring, too.

"It's a lot of fun," Stubbs said. "For me, it's a dream come true, coming out and getting basically the first taste of what it's like in the big leagues."

For the record, Stubbs was the player wearing a no-named No. 86 jersey against the Astros Tuesday and playing center field. He walked and flew out to the warning track.

"It the same thing I've been doing since I've been managing. If they come over, they're going to play," Baker said of the Minor League camp guys. "They don't come over to sit. You want to see who you can call back and wants to be in that situation and who doesn't want to be in that situation."

It's not just baseball neophytes that get called over. Veterans that were signed to Minor League contracts but not invited to big league camp have also been summoned. It's rare that a player can transition into the big league camp and catapult north on the 25-man roster.

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It almost happened two springs ago with the Reds. Brian Buchanan, a journeyman outfielder, played over 20 exhibition games with Cincinnati and batted above .400. Buchanan was a final day cut and missed going north when the club decided it wanted lefty-hitting Andy Abad instead as the 25th man.

Promising prospect? Jeff Conine's stay with the Reds was relatively brief. The return he yielded from his August trade to the Mets could be promising.

Conine went to New York on Aug. 20 in exchange for Minor League shortstop Jose Castro and outfielder Sean Henry. Castro, 21, came over from the Minor League camp and played in Tuesday's game.

"I got good reports on him," Baker said. "I talked to [vice president of player development] Tony Bernazard from the Mets. Tony liked him a lot. They didn't want to give him up."

In 90 games last season at Class A Port St. Lucie and Double-A Chattanooga, Castro batted a combined .312 with two homers, 26 RBIs and a .357 on-base percentage.

Class of 2007: The Reds' seventh-round Draft pick in June, third baseman Brandon Waring batted .311 with 20 home runs and 61 RBIs in 68 games with rookie-level Billings. Waring, who also committed 16 errors, finished 2007 with one game at Class A Dayton.

What they're saying: "A lot of little things from around the game. Not so much the physical things, but the way to think around the game and the way to approach different situations and how to respond to different things. The experience part was the biggest thing." -- Stubbs, on what he learned during his second professional season in 2007

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.