Brian O’Grady’s locker in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse is on the same wall where Todd Frazier dressed during his days with the Reds.
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While Frazier, now with the New York Mets, hasn’t played with the Reds since 2015, he shares a common bond with the newest Red. They both played college baseball at Rutgers.
Drafted by the Reds in the eighth round in 2014, O’Grady met Frazier in the offseason before his first spring training in 2015 and worked out with him a couple times.
“He was always really good to me any time I was around,” O’Grady said.
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O’Grady made his big-league debut Thursday in a 12-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs. He took over in center field in the eighth inning and popped out to third base in his first at-bat in the ninth. He became the 100th former Dayton Dragons player to reach the big leagues. He debuted three days after being promoted from Triple-A Louisville.
"The anticipation was killing me honestly," O'Grady said, "but it was cool to do it in front of my parents, and my uncle drove up and my girlfriend's here. It was fun. It was surreal. But I really tried to take it in and enjoy it, and I think I did a good job of that. Obviously, I wish it came in a little bit better of a game — in a win, hopefully — but I'm glad it's over and I can get back to playing baseball and hopefully help this team win some games and make a run to the playoffs."
O'Grady, 27, is the fourth Red to make his big-league debut this season, following Nick Senzel, Josh VanMeter and Jimmy Herget. According to BaseballReference.com, O'Grady is the 19,617th player in Major League Baseball history.
With the Reds facing a big deficit when O’Grady entered the game, the nerves weren’t as bad as he thought they would be. He said his family watching in the standings was more nervous than him.
“They got a lot of camera time, too,” O’Grady said. “People were sending them pictures. They were excited and nervous. It was a dream come true for them to watch me.”
It was also a dream come true for O’Grady, who struggled at times throughout his minor-league career. He hit .166 in 66 games at Double-A Pensacola in 2016. He made it to Triple-A last season for the first time and hit .306 in 42 games. He was hitting .277 with 27 home runs for the Bats this season when he earned the promotion.
“It’s definitely a longer run that I was hoping it would have been,” he said. “I think I’ve really been through just about everything I could go through down there, so I feel I’m prepared. It’s just validation for all the hard work, starting when I was younger and my parents were driving me to all the games.”
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