The Southeastern Conference (SEC) is known for dominating NCAA football and producing top draft talent for both football and basketball. As the 2019 MLB draft approaches, you can add baseball to that list, as well. The University of Kentucky‘s Zack Thompson is regarded as one of the top prospects in the draft.
Zack Thompson MLB Draft Profile
Thompson is a left-handed pitcher is a junior who was drafted in the 11th round of the 2016 draft before heading to Lexington. He is listed at six-foot-three-inches and 225 pounds, features four pitches, and is currently the 14th-ranked prospect according to MLB.com. He looks to be one of the best college pitchers in the draft.
Thompson’s four pitch mix is very strong. Scouts grade his fastball, curveball, and slider as 55/80 which is very good. His worst pitch, in terms of scouting grade, is his changeup, but even that has a score of 50/80.
His fastball sits in the low 90s, reaching as high as 96 MPH featuring some run and angle to it. A slider siting in the low 80s comes out of his hand with a high spin rate. These two pitches are plus pitches at their best.
His curveball also has a high spin and rate, featuring more depth than power. His changeup is decent with the opportunity to improve, rounding out a solid group of pitches. This repertoire, coupled with his frame and being left-handed, can make him a mid-rotation starting pitcher in MLB.
Injuries are definitely a concern for Thompson. In high school, his abilities and potential had him tabbed as a possible fifth-round pick. His slide to the 11th round was due in part by his commitment to the University of Kentucky, but injuries were also a big factor. There were concerns about his shoulder and he also failed a post-draft physical.
Injuries continued to arise in college when he missed two months of his sophomore season with an elbow injury. While the injury held him from play, it did not require surgery. Despite these injuries he has been healthy in 2019, failing to miss a start and pitching deeper into games than he has in college.
If Thompson can remain healthy, he compares favorably to a current left-handed star starting pitcher. Blake Snell throws harder than Thompson does, but they posses the same repertoire of pitches (Snell utilizes his curveball and changeup more than his slider). On a side note, Snell is a former first-round pick just as Thompson looks primed to become and Snell plays for the Tampa Bay Rays, the same team that drafted Thompson three years ago.
Zack Thompson’s potential makes him an exciting draft prospect for sure. Not only does he project to be one of the first pitchers taken, but he also looks to make University of Kentucky history. Alex Meyer was drafted 23rd overall in 2011 out of Kentucky, and he is currently the highest drafted Wildcat. Barring an unforeseen circumstance, Thompson should replace Meyer for that honor.
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