The Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy held their 6th Signing Day Ceremony with the class of 2022.

The Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy held their 6th Signing Day Ceremony with the class of 2022.

https://www.cincinnati.com/story/sports/mlb/reds/2022/06/06/cincinnati-reds-youth-academy-signing-day-hall-of-fame/7538287001/


Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy players use experience as a catalyst for college athletics

Sara Tidwell
Cincinnati Enquirer
 

The Cincinnati Reds' Youth Academy, founded in 2014 through the Major League and the Reds' Community Fund, held its sixth Signing Day Celebration at the Hall of Fame and Museum in Great American Ball Park on Monday afternoon.

Of the 11 athletes in the Cincinnati Reds Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) class of 2022, five will continue with their baseball and softball careers at the collegiate level. They are:

  • Dallas Arthur, Lakota West High School
  • Cason Bennett, Vandalia Butler High School
  • Andralyn Brown, Princeton High School
  • Alena Campbell, Mt. Notre Dame High School
  • Joseph Mendy, Vandalia Butler High School
Players from the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy signed letters of intent to play June 6. They are Alena Campbell, Mt. Notre Dame, Geneva College softball; Joe Mendy, Vandalia Butler, Wilberforce University baseball; Cason Bennett,	Vandalia Butler, Earlham College baseball; Dallas Arthur, Lakota West, Earlham College baseball; and Andralyn Brown, Princeton, Kentucky State University softball.
 

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Arthur, a pitcher who just finished his second year with the academy, will attend Earlham College with his teammate and pitcher/infielder Bennett, who spent three years with the academy. The pair are ecstatic to get to spend four more years together wearing the same uniform.

Arthur moved to Cincinnati from New Jersey. He said this program was the first to pick him up once he adapted to the area and it has been a key support system in a time of major change because, right away, the environment was warm and welcoming.

"Knowing how to use baseball as a catalyst to propel yourself forward in life (has been the biggest lesson I've learned)," Arthur said. "It's not always about making it to the next level or being at the top. Sometimes it's just about using the opportunities that you have to do what you can."

Bennett found himself in the academy through his Butler teammate. He plays a two-way position, swapping between middle infield and pitcher from time to time, and recalled the time they were down in Nashville, Tennessee, for a five-day competition. He said it got to the point where he was pitching every day and his coach told him, "Just go be yourself, show out and be yourself."

"This program means a lot to me," Bennett said. "Coming down, making that hour-long drive from Dayton, it's all worth it. I've got another family down here ... with (head) coach (Roosevelt) Barnes and (the other coaches). I know I have a place to be, (a place) to have a good time, put in the work and enjoy baseball."

Brown, another pitcher, will head to Kentucky State University in the fall after spending four years with the program. She said the program has given her a family in her teammates and she loves them dearly because they've been there for it all – even at Worlds in Florida, just watching movies in their hotel room.

Campbell, yet another pitcher, will attend Genova College after two years in the program. She wound up at RBI for the same reason Bennett did: a friend.

"She didn't want to go to the tryout alone and then I ended up staying. After the first year they asked me to come back and I agreed," she said. "(I might be) coming back next year to be a coach (with RBI), but right now I am a pitching coach and help kids around the Cincinnati area."

Lastly, Mendy, who spent three years at the academy as a middle infielder/outfielder, will be a part of the inaugural baseball team at Wilberforce University this fall. After 80 years, in partnership with the Reds, Wilberforce will introduce a collegiate program and Mendy is the first recruit.

Hall of Fame inductee and former Reds infielder Barry Larkin gave words of encouragement to the five student signees in ceremonial closing:

"We are going to fail. It is going to be tough. When you go to college, it is going to be tough. You are going to have challenges. ... Stay connected, communicate and keep your perspective. ... If you get through (all of the hard times), you're going to be building and creating these skills that you can apply (later in life)."

Other Reds RBI class of 2022 members going to college, though not playing ball, are Grady Harris Jr., Finneytown, undecided; Robert Walters, Walnut Hills High School, Texas Christian University; Parker Geshan, Talawanda, Miami University; Liam Melley, Walnut Hills, University of Southern California; Brennan Seiter, Newport Central Catholic, undecided; Jonathan Young, Western Hills, Wilberforce.