Reds Hall of Famer serves as Breakthrough Series instructor
By Robert Bondy
CINCINNATI -- The Queen City was well-represented on the first of three stops of the Breakthrough Series this summer, as many participants were looking forward to gleaning wisdom from Reds Hall of Famer Eric Davis.
Davis returned to Cincinnati on Monday and Tuesday to serve as an instructor during the Breakthrough Series showcase event. Of the 38 high school prospects in attendance, 11 were listed as Cincinnati natives. The large number of local players resulted in plenty of buzz to learn from a Reds legend.
"I was highly ecstatic when I found out Eric Davis was going to be part of this experience," said Roosevelt Barnes Jr., an outfield prospect from Cincinnati. "After working with him these last two days, I learned he kind of went through the same things I did. [There are] a lot of struggles coming from the South Central Compton area in California, and he just gave me a lot of tips on hitting and just being a baseball player."
Davis played for the Reds from 1984-1991 and 1996. During his nine seasons with the Reds, Davis played in two All-Star Games and won three Gold Glove Awards and two Silver Slugger Awards.
Davis was also the first Reds player to have 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season.
Davis said he expected many of the young players to vaguely know of him, but hoped they would dedicate some time to learning more about him and other players who came before them.
"They know, but probably tomorrow they'll know better because they got Google and they'll Google me," Davis said on Monday. "By seeing me, I think that would encourage them to ... go find, watch [tape] on some of the guys who paved the way for them."
DJ Fluker, a Breakthrough Series participant also from Cincinnati, didn't need to spend time looking up Davis. Fluker said his father has told him about Davis' Reds days, and has enjoyed being able to learn from him these past two days.
"I didn't really know who he was 'til a couple of years ago when my dad was telling me about him," Fluker said. "But I'm a huge fan now, knowing what he did. The stuff he accomplished.
"I'm an athletic guy, I want to be like Eric Davis. Use my athletic ability to play baseball."
Robert Bondy is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.