CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Country Day School baseball standout Ronnie Allen won’t be able to make it to his graduation ceremony Friday.
Excuse his absence.
Allen will be a little bit busy Friday morning. He'll be participating in a workout at Great American Ball Park.
With the Major League Baseball Draft scheduled to begin Monday, this week is an opportunity the Ohio Division III Player of the Year doesn’t want to pass up to impress scouts.
Allen, a switch-hitting catcher, received a preview of sorts from his potential future employer Wednesday afternoon as he was one of 14 student-athletes to attend the inaugural Reds Signing Day press conference in front of a crowded audience in the media room of GABP.
Allen, who is from Hamilton, can also trace some of his success to being a part of the P&G Cincinnati Major League Baseball Youth Academy this past year. He plays for the Reds RBI program this spring in games at Roselawn Park.
“This is great,” Allen said. “I thought this would be just another summer ball team. This is just a step down from the big leagues. Everything has been 100 percent serious every single day at the Urban Youth Academy.”
Allen had quite the memorable baseball season this spring as a Cincinnati Country Day School senior. He transferred from Hamilton his eighth-grade year and makes the 45-minute commute each day.
In addition to being the Division III state player of the year, he was named the Southwest Ohio Division III player of the year and the Miami Valley Conference co-player of the year.
He hit .552 with eight doubles, five home runs, one triple, 30 RBI and four stolen bases. He had a .717 on-base percentage and a .925 slugging percentage as the Indians earned a 21-7 record.
“Ronnie was a four-year starter and a great team leader,” CCDS coach Tim Dunn said. “He controlled base stealers.”
The Reds invited 10 area high school baseball players and five area softball players who participated in the academy in their careers signed to compete at the collegiate level in a formal ceremony in the media room of GABP.
Reds General Manager Dick Williams and Chief Operating Officer Phil Castellini were in attendance prior to Cincinnati’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen also gave the student-athletes some encouraging words as they prepare for college.
Reds broadcaster George Grande interviewed some of the high school players and congratulated them on their success. Williams told the audience he wouldn't be surprised if the Reds selected a Reds Youth Academy player in this year's draft.
After the ceremony, Williams walked over and briefly spoke with Allen. Later, Allen said Williams told him circumstances will work out in the next few days and left it at that.
Allen, who signed with Wabash Valley College (Mount Carmel, Illinois) Feb. 1, participated in the MLB Dream Series this past winter in Tempe, Arizona, where he gained exposure and development with several other players from around the country.
“He’s got some strength,” said JD Heilmann, scouting supervisor for Ohio and Michigan for Prep Baseball Report. “He’s a good player. He’s a physically mature player.”
The camp was held at the Angels’ Spring Training facility and it left a significant impression on Allen. The event also featured Hunter Greene, who is considered MLB’s No. 1 draft prospect next week (June 12-14).
Allen said he was fortunate to play competitive baseball at home last summer and not have to travel to Florida. He's ready for whatever the future may bring.
“I’m ready to improve on every single tool I have behind the plate,” Allen said. “This is only my third year catching so I have so much to work on. Hitting wise, everybody can get better. I am just ready to polish up everything.”