Stephen Lumpkins, who would have been the top returning player for the American University men’s basketball team, said he will pass up his senior season and sign a contract to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals.
A left-handed pitcher, the 6-foot-8 Lumpkins has not played organized baseball in two years. But at recent workouts he reached 88 mph on the radar gun and was selected by the Royals in the 13th round of the Major League draft earlier this week.
“It was definitely a tough decision,” said Lumpkins, who averaged 13.5 points and a team-leading 8.2 rebounds this past basketball season. “But the opportunity to play professional baseball was something I’ve always wanted to do and I couldn’t pass it up.”
Lumpkins said the Royals have agreed to pay for his remaining year of college.
Lumpkins was drafted last year in the 42nd round by the Pirates, but was not offered a contract. This year, several scouts considered him an intriguing prospect because of his size and velocity but were hesitant to commit to him because he has not faced live competition in so long.
Lumpkins had planned to play this summer for the Laconia (N.H.) Muskrats in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, but was happy to have the chance to sign immediately with Kansas City, whom he impressed at a pre-draft workout last week. Lumpkins said he will report next week to the Royals’ rookie team in the Arizona League.
“With most of the teams I had talked to it was more of a draft-and-follow sort of thing and see how the summer went,” Lumpkins said. “But I got seen by some of [the Royals’] higher-up people and they liked me and wanted to sign me.”