Young baseball players dream of one day being signed by a Major League Baseball team.
The Connecticut towns of Bristol and Wolcott each have a 2016 MLB signee to call their own.
Matt Blandino, chosen in the 19th round with the 558th pick, had his signing put out by the Reds on Monday on mlb.com's transactions list. So did Manny Cruz, who was chosen in the 23rd round with the 678th pick. Blandino played his high school ball at Bristol Central. Cruz started at Wilby in Waterbury, then ended at Wolcott High School.
Both locals were assigned to the Arizona League Reds, rookie ball. The signing amount for both players was not available, according to the website redsminorleagues.com. Blandino was given the No. 36 while Cruz will wear No. 4.
The Arizona Reds played their first game of the shortened season last night, and Cruz got a chance to show what he could do. Cruz batted lead off for the Reds in the game. He picked up his first professional hit and went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. He drew a walk and was also caught stealing.
Cruz's first professional bat was a leadoff walk. He was erased in the same inning on a pickoff, pitcher to first base to shortstop. Cruz was called out on strikes in his second at bat, then hit into a force out in his third at bat.
In the top of the sixth inning, Cruz got his first hit as a pro on a ground ball to left field. Cruz was called out on strikes in his final at bat of the game in the top of the eighth inning.
Blandino did not pitch in his first rookie league game. The Reds did use five pitchers in the first game, so Blandino is likely to see his first professional action sooner than later.
Blandino and Cruz join Sal Romano as area players to sign with the Reds. Romano, from Southington, is pitching at 'AA' in the Southern League for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
To keep up with Blandino and Cruz, go to the Arizona League Reds website.