CINCINNATI — From the moment he walked into Great American Ball Park on Friday, a Reds infield prospect Spencer Steer wanted to soak in everything about his major league debut. The night ended with Steer getting directly doused with a water cooler by teammates.
Debuts don’t get much better than this. Steer reached base in all four plate appearances, slugged a home run for his first big league hit and scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth in Cincinnati. 3-2 walk-off win over the Rockies.
“You don’t know what to expect coming to the big leagues, it’s a lifelong dream,” Steer said. “You can’t really know what to expect until you do it. Today, I created memories that will last me the rest of my life.”
The rookie finished the night 2-for-2 with two walks. The last Reds player to hit four times in his major league debut was Jay Bruce in 2008. Steer is only the 11th player ever to hit four home runs in his debut, and he is the first Cincinnati player to do it.
Steer, the the number 7 perspective of an organization, was acquired on August 2nd in the trade that sent starting pitcher Tyler Mahle to the Twins. One of 10 prospects the Reds acquired in a series of trades this summer, he is the first to reach the big leagues and offer a glimmer of hope as the rebuilding process begins.
In his first plate appearance against Colorado lefty Kyle Freeland, Steer went from a 1-2 count to working a 10-pitch walk in the second inning.
“What an incredible debut. He put together incredible flat looks,” Freeland said.
Leading off the bottom of the fifth, Steer crushed a 2-1 Freeland pitch to center field for his first big league hit and home run as fans at Great American Ball Park roared with approval.
“To be honest, I didn’t feel anything. Looking back, I knew I hit it right,” Steer said. “It’s a moment where you black out. That’s something you dream about. For it to actually happen, I can’t remember much.”
Injured Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who also hit a home run for his first MLB hit, was in the TV booth doing some play-by-play when Steer hit his homer.
“I haven’t met [Votto before Friday],” Steer said. “They had a 15-year-old in the big leagues celebration and got him a really cool gift. I was able to say hello. He congratulated me on the call.”
As Steer touched home plate, he pointed to the seats where his family from Southern California was jumping up and down with excitement.
“I could hear them,” Steer said. “They were extra loud tonight, which was amazing. You had to show them some love because you’re doing it for them. It was special. Everyone who’s supported me my whole life was here tonight. I had to show give them some love.”
Steer led off the ninth with a double toward the right-field corner and took third base on a wild pitch. With runners on second and third base and Colorado using five infielders with one out, Jonathan India hit an ax to the middle of the infield.
There was no throw to the plate when Steer scored. It was India’s first walk-on hit.
“Awesome debut,” India said of Steer’s night. “That’s really hard to do. I’m happy for him. He’s a good kid and he’s going to have a good career. I’m excited for him.”
As Steer was doing a television interview on the field after the game, teammates TJ Friedl and Graham Ashcraft doused him with the contents of a water cooler.
“Even for the most polished, it’s still a lot going on on your first day,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Not only coming to the big leagues for the first time, but the first time in the organization knowing almost no one here or very few people. It can have a tendency to move you really quickly.
“Then the game starts, and before you know it, it’s over. I happened to walk into the parking lot stage with him and right from the start, everything was calm and under control. He took it all in. I think that polished approach led to where it was quite slow to where you could really see the type of player he is.”