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04/03/12 10:10 PM ET

Reds get glimpse of future in spring finale

CINCINNATI -- The Reds have invested heavily in scouting and player development in recent years. On Tuesday night, the fruits of that investment were put on display in the Reds Spring Showcase Futures Game at Great American Ball Park.

Reds Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Browning, the pitching coach at Class A Dayton, said the game was an invaluable opportunity for Reds Minor Leaguers to face their Major League counterparts in a big league ballpark.

"It's great for them," Browning said. "It's a great opportunity to see where the big leaguers play. This is as close to the Major Leagues as they can get without actually playing here. And it gives the organization another chance to evaluate them."

Donald Lutz took advantage of the latter point.

Lutz hit a two-run home run off Reds starter Mike Leake, lifting the Futures to a 2-1 victory before 12,774 fans on a summer-like evening. The seven-inning game was played in one hour and 42 minutes.

Among the night's big stars was infielder Billy Hamilton, the Reds' reigning Minor League Player of the Year who stole 103 bases last year at Dayton. Hamilton wowed Tuesday's crowd with his speed, going 2-for-3 with a bunt single and one stolen base.

"The next time I come back here, I want to be playing here," Hamilton said. "I thought I'd be nervous, but I wasn't. I was excited from the start."

Hamilton nearly had two steals on Tuesday, but he was tagged out when he over-slid second base in the first inning.

"I guess big league dirt is different than Minor League dirt, because I kept on sliding for some reason," Hamilton said. "I felt fast. I don't know if it was the red shoes, but I felt fast for some reason."

Tuesday's game was just the third exhibition played in Great American Ball Park, including two against the Indians in preparation for the park's grand opening in 2003.

The evening's festivities featured live player interviews during batting practice shown on the video board, and pregame autograph and photo sessions by Futures players.

For Reds players, returning home from Goodyear, Ariz., a day earlier than normal was beneficial in preparation for Thursday's Opening Day game against the Miami Marlins.

"Getting home, getting settled, just getting back in the swing of things, is big for me," said Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, who was celebrating his 25th birthday on Tuesday. "This game's a little different than the past couple years, when we had exhibition games at Minor League parks. This is where those guys are trying to get. They are where we were at one point."

Tuesday's game had a Spring Training feel. It was briskly played, and both teams made it fun for the fans.

Brandon Phillips had a leadoff double in the first, but was picked off by Futures catcher Tucker Barnhart. This after Phillips feigned anger over a brush-back pitch by Daniel Corcino.

Corcino pitched two innings, allowing one hit and had two strikeouts.

The fans reserved their loudest ovations for Phillips and first baseman Joey Votto, who according to a USA Today report signed a 10-year, $225 million extension.

Futures right-hander J.J. Hoover, acquired from Atlanta on Sunday in exchange for third baseman Juan Francisco, had three strikeouts and a walk in the third inning.

Lutz, who hit 20 homers last season at Dayton, went 2-for-2 with two RBIs.

Leake allowed two runs and four hits in four innings. He walked one and struck out three.

Zack Cozart accounted for the Reds' only run with a home run off Kyle Lotzkar in the fourth.

Homer Bailey pitched two innings, allowing a hit. Aroldis Chapman pitched to two batters in the seventh, fanning both. Sean Marshall faced two batters in relief of Chapman, giving up a hit with one strikeout.

Reds manager Dusty Baker said Tuesday's game helped the Reds get reacquainted with Great American Ball Park. He also said the players were looking forward to Wednesday's off-day.

"It's huge," Baker said. "Some guys need to find a place to live, get unpacked, move in. For the new guys, they have to find a bank, a laundry, a grocery store ... things everybody else takes for granted. It's a big adjustment."

Jeff Wallner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.