How a Reddit AMA helped get a pitcher signed by an MLB team

Samuel Ware/CSUN Athletics

AT 10:55 A.M., the alarm on Hayden Shenefield's phone buzzed. It was May 6, his 26th birthday, and he wanted to celebrate it at Taco Surf, his favorite San Diego burrito joint, with a carne-asada-and-french-fry-stuffed gut bomb. As he prepared to tuck into it, Shenefield opened the Reddit app on his phone and navigated toward the reason he had set the alarm three days earlier.

Kyle Boddy was about to start an Ask Me Anything session on the Cincinnati Reds subreddit. Boddy is the director of pitching for the Reds, regarded by some in the baseball industry as an enfant terrible but seen in the pitching community as a kingmaker. The company he started, Driveline Baseball, had grown from a small outfit on the outskirts of Seattle into the game's foremost pitching-and-hitting think tank. Driveline employees populate player-development staffs around Major League Baseball and proselytize the company's data-driven worldview.

Since joining the Reds in late 2019, Boddy has helped overhaul the organization's pitching philosophy. Spincinnati will accept all kinds. Size is no impediment, pedigree no barrier. On Boddy's island of misfit toys, all that matters is stuff. The emergence of technology that allows pitchers to know not just how fast their pitches move but also the revolutions per minute they spin and the magnitude of their movement democratized the game. When one redditor asked Boddy about how to be discovered, he responded: "Be elite and post your stuff to social media. Scouts will find you. Or I will."