On Monday afternoon the Cincinnati Reds called up outfielder Jacob Hurtubise. After going undrafted in the shortened-to-five-rounds 2020 draft, he signed with the Reds as a free agent. Since then he’s worked his way up the ladder. Monday saw all of the work he put in pay off as he became the 23,199th player in Major League Baseball history. But not only did he get to put the uniform on and sit in the dugout, he got into the game as he was called upon to pinch run for Mike Ford after he had tripled in the 8th inning. Hurtubise would be stranded at third, but he got his first taste of being on a big league field during a game.

The 26-year-old went to the US Military Academy at West Point. He played there for four seasons, breaking out as a junior when he hit .375/.541/.445. As a senior he had four hits in the first give games of the season before it was cancelled.

Major League Baseball instituted the draft in 1965. Since then there have been 14 players drafted from the the US Military Academy at West Point (three players were selected twice). Jacob Hurtubise is the first one to reach the Major Leagues *record scratch* – yes, Hurtubise was undrafted in 2020, but the Seattle Mariners did draft him in 2019 and he did not sign. He is the third player from the school to reach the big leagues.

Walt French was the first to do so and he had a career from 1923-1929. For nearly 100 years he remained the only attendee of West Point to reach the big leagues. French also played football and basketball, and was an All-American football player for Army. He, however, did not graduate from West Point and left in 1922.

Chris Rowley went undrafted in 2013 but signed as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays following the draft. He worked his way through their farm system and made his debut in August of 2017. He would pitch in eight big league games between 2017 and 2018 for the Blue Jays. He last pitched in the winter of 2019 in the Puerto Rican Winter League – throwing one inning for Mayaguez.

As for Hurtubise, things are a little bit different today than they were for much of the time in professional sports when it comes to military duties for graduates of the military academies. Rowley, for example, missed several seasons as he served his required duty before returning to baseball. A relatively new policy allows military service academy graduates seen with a realistic chance to play professional sports to delay their obligations to the military. Hurtubise was one of the first athletes granted that option.

Having the option to immediately continue one’s athletic endeavors certainly plays into the favor of having a successful career. Hurtubise was able to benefit from that and in 2023 he had his breakout season as he hit .330/.479/.483 while playing for Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville. The previous offseason he worked out at Driveline trying to increase his power output after hitting just one home run in his entire life up to that point. In 2023 he came out and hit seven home runs – six of them went over the fence. But he also walked more than he struck out and had 45 stolen bases in 119 games played.

Following the season the Reds added him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. This season began with Hurtubise in Triple-A with the Bats, but in his third game he dove for a ball while playing left field and had to exit the game with a shoulder injury. He didn’t return to the field until May when he joined the Arizona Complex League Reds for three games on a rehab assignment. Then he moved up to Dayton to continue his rehab assignment, playing three games last week with the Dragons. With TJ Friedl breaking his thumb on Sunday in San Francisco, the Reds called up Hurtubise directly from his own rehab assignment to join the team in Arizona.

Brandon Williamson to rehab with Dayton

Cincinnati is sending left-handed starter Brandon Williamson on a rehab assignment tonight with the Dayton Dragons. He’s expected to start their game against the Great Lakes Loons at 7:05pm ET.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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10 Responses

  1. Optimist

    Excellent – hope the injury is well behind him. Dunn and Hinds should be next in line, though Dunn is not on the 40-man and needs to get past his own injury earlier this season. Hinds needs to improve the BB/K line. Reds clearly have OF opportunities.

    Reply
  2. DaveCT

    Congrat’s to Hurtubise for making The Show! !

    And, Spiers, Callihan, and Stafura making the Baseball America Hot Sheet for last week.

    Reply
  3. MBS

    He’s a good candidate for a 4th/5th OF. It would be nice to see him get the start tonight.

    Way too early, but I was looking at the Rule 5 guys for next year, and it seems to be a light crop of guys that would need protection. Dunn, and Aguiar are the only must protect guys, and 1 or both might make the 40 before the years over.

    Reply
    • Greenfield Red

      Though, he will not be promoted to the 40, doesn’t Austin Henrick have to be protected this year or risk losing him.

      Reply
      • MBS

        There were more that would be at “risk”, but those were the only ones I’d be worried about.

  4. DaveCT

    In a draft related question for Doug, or anyone. How are college hitting stats transferable to pro ball?

    Specifically, looking at Bazzana, as it seems quite possible he’ll be there at the second pick, given Condon’s historic season and tools. He has a high number of HR’s and a relatively low number of doubles. Does that matter, and how much?

    Thus far, he is at: .424/.589/.972 with 11 doubles, four triples, 26 home runs and 60 RBIs. How do we interpret that? What factors (ie league, quality of competition, ballpark, aluminum bats) play into a disparity that seems inverted, at least on the surface?

    Or, are things more scouting related better, ie he is considered to have elite tools and skills?

    “(Bazzana) pairs his elite bat speed with an equally advanced feel for the barrel. (He) has also demonstrated high-level pitch recognition skills, which has led to a video game-like 66-to-28 walk-to-strikeout ratio.”*

    One of the main things confusing for me is the older adage of ‘doubles turning into homer runs as player develop their power.’ This seems polar opposite.

    Thoughts?

    *https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/jamie-arnold-travis-bazzana-highlight-ncaa-week-13-standouts-hot-sheet/

    Reply
    • Randy in Chatt

      His bat is elite but as only played 2nd base. If we could play outfield too that would make him more appealing, Let’s see how he plays when e its more elite pitching in the college playoffs. He has much better speed than Condon and Caglionone. He probably has the athletic chops to play outfield because the Reds have so many middle infielders already. The Pac 10 pitching is not as elite as the SEC which places me in the Caglionone fan club a little higher., but Cags has less doubles than Bazzanna . He only has 3 on the year as of last night which seems odd. Cags home run production vs. strikeout rate is elite this year.

      IDK, the Reds should get an elite bat in this draft.

      Reply
    • Doug Gray

      The first thing I always look at with college hitters is their strikeout-to-walk ratio. It’s almost always telling. After that, it’s the contact rate. Guys striking out of 15% of the time in college is a big red flag (as is guys who don’t walk at least as often as they strikeout as a junior in college, though I like to see guys with more walks than strikeouts if they’re going to be in the 1st round).

      After that, though, I tend to lean on scouting reports.

      The doubles turn into homers thing can be true for several reasons. First is that guys are generally going to get stronger from let’s say age 20 to age 25, especially today when there are legit strengthening programs and stuff in organizations that didn’t exactly exist 30-40 years ago. But you’re also going to get guys who simply become better hitters through learning their swing zones and that leading to more quality contact throughout the year. That doesn’t work for everyone, but for the guys who do tend to make it and stick around, it does.

      I’ve also got one caveat that applies only to catchers: If they aren’t walking more than they strikeout during their college career (not just as a junior), then they’re not likely to ever hit in the big leagues. Guys that catch see pitches (granted from a different angle) every day. Hundreds of them a week of in-game action. They should not only be able to identify pitches better, but also the strikezone better than other hitters. If they aren’t doing that by the time they are draft eligible college players then I’ve got little faith they’re going to make that work.

      But in terms of just having some kind of “do the stats translate” – I think beyond some level of strikeout/walk rates, no. Even on the best college teams half of those guys will never sniff professional baseball. Half of them might wind up in pro ball, with a small number reaching the big leagues.

      I do think that with there being more tracking data for college guys thanks to Trackman being just about everywhere, teams can dive deeper into some of the stats to see what kinds of pitchers guys are doing damage against (or failing miserably against) and that could help teams translate stats a bit better. The public doesn’t get that kind of data, though. But you can imagine where a guy could feast on fastballs that are, say 94 and under, and could just destroy college pitching on the surface because you just don’t run into as many guys in college – even today – that are going above there as consistently as you’re going to see every day in pro ball.

      Reply
  5. Reaganspad

    Bazzana is from Sydney Australia so his baseball is still being learned but his skill set is impressive. He was picked off 1st this year with the bases loaded in a game the Beavers lost 3-1, so he has the Tootblan down. Actually he was just getting ready to score on anything to the outfield as he is fast…but still learning the game. But the strike zone and bat to ball he has down really well.
    He has set all the records for stolen bases so has the speed to cover CF. He came in as a SS but was moved to second. I do not have an understanding of his arm strength.

    Reply

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