AU basketball fans were shocked earlier this summer when starting center Stephen Lumpkins, who was expected to lead the Eagles this season, was drafted and then signed by the Kansas City Royals.
You see, the Royals are a baseball team. AU, you might have realized, doesn’t have a baseball team.
Last year, Lumpkins was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 42nd round of the MLB draft, but did not sign. Yet, somehow, the lefty pitcher was selected 29 rounds sooner in 2011 after only playing six games with the Bethesda Big Train last summer.
No one can blame Lumpkins for signing. If playing professional baseball is his dream and this was his opportunity to do it, then he had to.
In fact, Lumpkins’ decision has prompted me to reevaluate what I want to do to with my life. Instead of being a journalist, I’ve decided I’d rather be a politician.
To those of you thinking, “Ben, you can’t do that, you have no experience being a politician,” apparently I don’t need to.
The selection made little sense for the Royals. While Lumpkins is 6 feet 8 inches and throws with his left arm, he topped out at 88 mph during workouts for various MLB teams prior to the draft. The hope for the Royals is that they can work with him to increase his velocity since he is so raw.
While that is nice to hope for, Lumpkins has lost significant development time having played little organized baseball since high school.
I haven’t pitched competitively since I was 12 in Capital City Little League. Can I be drafted too?
To those of you now thinking, “Ben, he is 6 feet 8 inches and throws almost 90 mph. You’re barely 5 feet 3 inches and never got it up to 50,” I say … shut up.
The MLB draft has 50 rounds, so to use a 13th round pick on a player like Lumpkins seems to be a reach.
I do not claim to know many of the players available in round 13, but I have to believe that someone with more of a track record of success, and who had actually played a lot of competitive baseball within the last two years, was available. Players who were much better players in high school than Lumpkins, such as Drew Henson, who was once touted as the next great Yankees third baseman, have not made it because they lost developmental years.
Again, I’m not criticizing the Royals for taking him. I’m criticizing them for taking him so early.
However, there is one piece of good news for Lumpkins, as a lot of All-Stars and future Hall of Famers were selected in the 13th round. It’s possible he could join the likes of Albert Pujols, Jim Thome, Juan Pierre and Josh Beckett as successful 13th rounders.
The question now is: what does Lumpkins’ departure mean for AU basketball? The system was already depleted with the graduation of two-time All-Patriot League forward Vlad Moldoveanu.
Lumpkins’ departure seriously decreases the team’s chances of winning the Patriot League championship in 2012.
Now, senior Troy Brewer, who averaged 11.5 points per game in 2010-2011, will lead the team.
Aside from Brewer, the team should struggle offensively. Of the players still on the roster, senior Jordan Hinkle had the second most points per game last year, averaging 4.5. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that when your top two offensive leaders from last season combine for an average of 16 points, you’re not in very good shape.
This does not even take into account what Lumpkins did for the team defensively, averaging 8.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks last season.
Time will tell if the Royals made the right decision, or Lumpkins himself for that matter.
For the Eagles though, this is a loss they will most likely not recover from this season.