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Instinctual Florida SS Christian Cairo Ready For The Next Level

Image credit: Christian Cairo (Photo by Stacy Jo Grant)

Christian Cairo showed why he would soon be on scouts’ radars for the 2019 draft during the semifinals of the 2017 Florida state high school playoffs.

Only a sophomore at the time, and playing third base instead of his natural position of shortstop for Calvary Christian (Clearwater, Fla.), Cairo had two balls smoked his way on consecutive plays by American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) batters. One, he handled cleanly. The other, he knocked down yet couldn’t make the play. It was his reaction to both plays, however, that showed his maturity to his high school head coach, Greg Olsen.

“The first one was hit down the line and Christian dove and knocked it down but didn’t have a play,” Olsen said. “It was a very tough play, but the opposing team was letting him know about it. The very next play a kid hit a rocket to his backhand. He dove, caught it, threw the ball to second and we turned a double play.

“You could just see the fire in him. He was a split-second away from making a great play the play before, and the next pitch he got another opportunity and he made the play. He didn’t showboat or show off. He just ran off the field. That was pretty special.”

Cairo is the son of 17-year major leaguer Miguel Cairo, now a minor league infield coordinator in the Yankees’ system. Olsen, as well as scouts, rave about Cairo’s instincts for the game, which Cairo directly attributes to his father.

“He taught me how to be a man and how to have a work ethic,” Cairo said. “From day one to the end of the season you have to grind and be all in every game.

“My dad taught me how to bunt, move over runners, the details of the game. I love the competitiveness of baseball. I love that you have to bring your best every day and it still might be an 0-for-3 day. It’s the grit, working hard on and off the field, practicing, the people you play against.”

A National League scout had the same observation about the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Cairo, who currently ranks No. 83 on Baseball America’s Top 300 Draft Prospects list.

“His biggest assets are his energy level and instincts for the game,” the scout said. “You can tell his dad taught him well. He plays 100 percent all the time and gives consistent effort. You can see he loves to play.

“He’s a little small, but he keeps the bat in the zone a long time and drives the ball to the gaps. He’s not super fast, but he’s smart on the bases and makes all the plays in the field.”

Cairo was hitting above .450 through the season’s first month, displaying more extra-base power. He tries to pattern his game after Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor.

“I like how detail-oriented playing shortstop is,” Cairo said. “You have to be almost perfect on every play and move your feet and make perfect throws on the run and off balance.”

As for the amateur draft in June, with a scholarship to Louisiana State in his pocket, Cairo said he’s just focusing on improving each game.

“Scouts have told me to be ready for June, but either way it’s a win-win—LSU or the draft,” Cairo said. “I’m letting my dad handle that. It’s my senior year and I want to enjoy it.”

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