Golden given royal welcome at Wrigley

Golden given royal welcome at Wrigley

CHICAGO -- Reggie Golden got his first peek at life in the big leagues on Saturday.

Golden, the Cubs' second-round Draft pick, signed his contract on Friday and was able to do a little hitting in the cage with players such as Marlon Byrd, Mike Fontenot, Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukudome. The Cubs now have signed 24 of their first 50 selections.

"It feels good," Golden said of being in a Major League clubhouse. "I grew up watching these guys play, especially Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano. I've got chills."

Golden, selected out of Wetumpka High School in Wetumpka, Ala., was recommended by area scout Tom Clark, who accompanied the outfielder on Saturday.

"He's a combination of speed and power, and that's hard to find, especially nowadays," Clark said. "He can run, and he has power."

Golden finished his high school career with 36 home runs, 156 RBIs and 146 runs. He did sign with the University of Alabama, but has instead opted to get his professional career started.

On Draft day in June, more than 100 friends and family gathered at the Wetumpka Civic Center, thinking he might be picked in the first round. Baseball coach Ray Mullino, with the help of Mayor Jerry Willis, arranged the get-together.

"The Draft is something you can't predict," Mullino told reporters that night.

"I think everybody was excited, and there was a big turnout," Clark said on Saturday. "[Golden] said to me, 'I didn't even know the Cubs liked me.' And I said, 'I told you I wouldn't bug you during the year.'"

Clark had seen Golden on tape, but said there's more to the youngster than the physical skills.

"He's very talented, but he's also a great kid," Clark said. "He's got super makeup."

Golden is fast -- he looks fast standing still -- and Clark agreed. How fast?

"Decent," Golden said modestly.

"He's got four really strong tools and an average arm," Clark said. "That's the biggest thing he'll need to work on. It's a playable arm, but something he needs to work on. I think he'll get better."

Golden played right and center in high school, but Clark projected the outfielder as taking over in left someday.

Byrd talked to Golden and escorted him to the batting cage.

"I have a few butterflies," Golden said.

Next stop is Mesa, Ariz., to get some workouts in.

"I'm ready to play now," Golden said. "This is my dream."