Scouting director Brad Meador had several reasons to watch Cincinnati play Oregon State at the Corvallis Regional this spring.
OSU catcher Adley Rutschman was the nation’s top draft prospect, but he wasn’t going to fall to the Reds at No. 7 overall. So instead Meador bore down on the Bearcats, a program for which he had a personal connection.
Not only had Meador once coached at Cincinnati, but his son is on a youth baseball team with the sons of the Bearcats’ head coach and pitching coach. All three boys just happened to be staying at Meador’s house while the game played on TV.
What Meador saw in that game didn’t surprise him, but it would help influence him later in the month. The best performance in that game didn’t belong to Rutschman but to Cincinnati senior outfielder A.J. Bumpass, who went 5-for-5 and hit a go-ahead RBI triple in the ninth inning of the Bearcats’ upset victory.
Cincinnati would lose its next two games, to eventual national runner-up Michigan and then to Creighton in the elimination game, but Bumpass finished the series hitting .500, building on a postseason that included a most outstanding player award at the American Athletic Conference Tournament.
A couple weeks later, the Reds took Bumpass in the 39th round.
“Obviously, I’ve known (the Bearcats coaching staff) forever. Talking to them and hearing about the kid made him an easy guy to pick,” Meador said. “You know you’re going to get a good kid who is going to do things right and everything you ask, and that’s the perfect guy to give a chance to.”
Bumpass has good speed and is a good defender on an outfield corner with a good arm. The lefthanded hitter batted .290/.369/.512 with eight home runs for the Bearcats this season, playing through a wrist injury after being hit by a pitch earlier in the season.
The biggest downside for Bumpass is his age. At 23 years old, he was the oldest position player on the Rookie-level Greeneville roster when the Reds assigned him to the Appalachian League.
— The Reds released 2016 first-round righthander Nick Howard. The reliever out of Virginia pitched in three games at Double-A this year, giving up seven runs (four earned) in 3.1 innings.
— Outfielder Aristides Aquino had a 22-game hitting streak at Triple-A Louisville, hitting .345/.415/.667 with eight home runs during the streak. After having the streak snapped on June 20, he hit in the next four games, including three homers in a doubleheader on June 21.