Reds, Bumpass reunite via Draft after long road

June 6th, 2019

CINCINNATI -- University of Cincinnati right fielder A.J. Bumpass and the Reds got another chance to find each other in the 2019 MLB Draft on Wednesday. In the 39th round, the Reds selected Bumpass.

In 2017, Bumpass was also selected by the club in the 29th round as an age-eligible sophomore, but he remained at UC.

“We’ve obviously watched him,” said Reds director of amateur scouting Brad Meador. “The second half of the season, especially late in the year in the conference tournament and then the regional, you see him on TV. And every time you looked up, he was right in the middle of the action. He’s doing something, like a big hit.”

Bumpass, 23, established career highs with his .290 average, eight home runs, six triples and 44 RBIs this season while playing in 60 of the team’s 62 games. Defensively, he’s committed only one error over the past two seasons.

“I feel good. I’m really excited to start the next chapter of my baseball career and journey,” Bumpass said. “Obviously, it’s been my dream to play in the big leagues, and this is another step toward that dream. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to do that.”

Bumpass led the way during Saturday’s stunning upset of defending national champion Oregon State on the Beavers’ home field during the NCAA College World Series regionals. He went 5-for-5 with the tie-breaking RBI triple in the ninth inning for a 7-6 Bearcats win.

Unfortunately for Bumpass and UC, they were eliminated on Sunday with a loss to Creighton. He has yet to fully sense the local buzz from what he and the team accomplished. It was the Bearcats’ first NCAA postseason appearance in 45 years.

“I haven’t seen anybody in town. I haven’t left the house much,” Bumpass said. “My neighbors were like ‘Good game, yada, yada, yada.’ Being on the West Coast, I didn’t really get the opportunity to know how many people were actually tuned into that game. I don’t have Twitter but afterward, people were apparently going crazy. It was good to see the city come around us and support us during that time. It was a really neat experience.”

The Reds and Bumpass first got acquainted when the North Carolina native was in the organization’s figurative backyard. He was a participant in MLB’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program and in 2014, played in a tournament held at then newly-built P&G MLB Urban Youth Academy in Cincinnati. Part-time scouts Denny Neagle and Marlon Styles were watching, as was area supervisor Ben Jones.

“At that time, he didn’t have a place to go to school,” Meador said. “[The scouts] were working the tournament, and they saw him. They got to know the kid a little bit and helped him get to UC.”

Fast-forward and the Reds and Bumpass are finally together as he tries to work his way back to Cincinnati again -- this time at Great American Ball Park.

“When you’re getting late in the Draft, and you’re looking for quality guys to put on the teams, that’s what you’re looking for,” Meador said.