With the COVID-19 outbreak forcing the cancelation of all high school spring sports, local high school seniors were forced to deal with the abrupt reality that their prep careers were over. A group of these student-athletes were members of the Cincinnati Reds RBI program, many of who were also regulars
With the COVID-19 outbreak forcing the cancelation of all high school spring sports, local high school seniors were forced to deal with the abrupt reality that their prep careers were over. A group of these student-athletes were members of the Cincinnati Reds RBI program, many of who were also regulars at the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy over the years. With our Senior Spotlight Series, the Reds want to recognize these players for their efforts and wish them well in their future endeavors, both on and off the field.
For JT Thompson, Reds RBI has been a part of nearly his entire baseball journey.
Thompson joined RBI at its earliest stage, as part of a 10U team. One of his favorite memories comes from those early days, when he played in the 2012 Continental Amateur Baseball Association World Series in Indiana.
“It was the first time that we’d been in a big tournament where we played a lot of different teams from all over the country,” he said. “It was really fun but also a great experience to play great teams from other states.”
Eight years later, the Clark Montessori High School graduate has seen his RBI career come to an end. While it wasn’t in the fashion he imagined, he completed his program tenure with some great moments.
“The best experience with RBI was going to Regionals last year,” he said. “I had a great time on and off the field with my fellow team members. I also enjoyed meeting players from other teams. I always enjoyed playing with RBI, because it makes you feel like a family instead of feeling like a player. They offer a lot of different opportunities and everyone is genuine.”
Thompson's hard work on the field culminated in January, when he had the opportunity to attend the USA Baseball Dream Series in Tempe, Ariz. Started in 2017, the Dream Series is an MLB and USA Baseball event that hosts more than 60 high school pitchers and catchers from across the country. The athletes are placed in a developmental camp atmosphere with the chance to showcase their skills for professional scouts and college recruiters.
Outside of the on-field instruction, the participants also receive daily presentations from former MLB players and scouts as well as college administrators and other industry professionals. The program’s focus targets the collegiate and recruiting processes and additional career opportunities within baseball.
“It was a very big moment for me, because that was the first time I had been to a camp that big and had the chance to meet and learn from some baseball icons on how to improve my game and take it to the next level,” Thompson said. “I was really humbled to be there with some of the top players in the country.”
Thompson is hoping to parlay his high school, RBI and Dream Series experiences into a spot on a college baseball roster. His first step will be attending Kentucky Christian University in the fall.
“At first, pursuing college baseball was more of wanting to learn and have the full knowledge and understanding of baseball as I got older, but I also want to play college baseball at the highest possible level and beyond.
“I am keeping my options open. I think that finding the right school plays a big part, because while I might not be where I ultimately want to be to continue my career, until then I’m going to work on my craft and get better every day.”
Getting to this point hasn’t been easy. In eight years with RBI, Thompson has experienced a lot of personal growth. He admits to making mistakes along the way, but he has learned from those experiences and taken more responsibility and accountability for his actions. He has also received help and support from people in his life to help navigate through those times.
“My grandmother has helped and motivated me to be where I am today,” Thompson said. “She has been there for me since Day 1 and provided me with whatever I needed to be successful. And my former coach and father figure, Fred Greer, taught me a lot not only about baseball but also about life. I am grateful to have him present today for whatever I need and to be able to get advice from someone that has been where I am and been through hard times.”