West Point alum made history in his MLB debut with Reds

    With a pinch-running opportunity on Monday and his first couple of at-bats Tuesday night, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jacob Hurtubise made the United States Military Academy history. 

    Hurtubise’s debut made him the first West Point graduate to make it to the majors under the 2019 law, allowing service academy graduates to go straight to the pros rather than completing two years of military service before pursuing professional sporting opportunities.

    The law has since been reversed, a change that will go into effect next year, so it’s unclear whether Hurtubise will be joined by any more West Point ballplayers in the majors anytime soon despite a strong era for the program. The speedy outfielder had a distinguished career as a Black Knight, with a batting average of over .300 and two seasons of 40+ stolen bases, putting him well on the way to a career total of 100 plus. 

    Despite the premature end to the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hurtubise left college as the Patriot League’s all-time leader in both stolen bases and walks and was a first-team All-Conference selection in 2019, as well as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. Following that season, he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 39th round of the 2019 MLB Draft but declined to sign — he instead signed with Cincy as an undrafted free agent when he was not selected in the five-round 2020 draft.

    Previous West Pointers to reach the big leagues include Chris Rowley, who pitched in eight games for the Toronto Blue Jays between 2017 and 2018, and Walt French, who attended the academy and played baseball in the 1920s but does not appear to have graduated. 

    Hurtubise will look to become the first former Army player to record a major league hit since French, and he should have some time to do so — he was called up to replace injured outfielder TJ Friedl, who officially landed on the IL due to a fractured left thumb. 

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