Since this is the mid-season write-up, it's just a quick overview of the player. When we get to the preseason re ranking in the offseason, they'll be a lot more involved.
Stats are current as of 8/4/2019.
All write-ups were published during all-star week.
Prospect #8: LHP ZacK Thompson
Palm Beach Cardinals
Drafted 19th Overall in the 2019 draft
On draft night, I stated that my preference would have been for the Cardinals to select either George Kirby or Brennan Malone with the 19th overall pick instead of Thompson. Those two were my preference entering the draft, especially Kirby, and I was disappointed that the Cardinals passed over someone that seemed like a quick-ascender to the starting rotation. It's important that I say it again, right here. I decided very poorly on the wording of that tweet. That's because I'm a moron.
Truth is, the selection of Zack Thompson (who I will be replacing the lowercase "k" with an uppercase "K" from here until the end of time) was the correct decision to make, even if it wasn't the decision that I'd make. Truth is, Thompson's ceiling is higher than Kirby's is, even if Kirby's floor is easily that of a back-end starter. Also, I can now admit, after internalizing about it, that I was probably over-reacting to the reports of two separate concerns with ZacK Thompson's arm. Instead, I should have been focusing on just how well he recovered during his 2019 season at Kentucky. I focused on the wrong things, the concerns, instead of focusing on just how talented ZacK is.
You know all of those things that I just said about Genesis Cabrera? About how his stuff is some of the liveliest in the organization but his command is what needs to improve? Well, Thompson's command is already better than Cabrera's is, and his curve is, without a doubt, better than Cabrera's is. His fastball isn't as explosive or as high-velocity as Genesis' is, but it's lively and sneaky enough, and he commands it well enough, to be called above average. Take a look at this curve ball in the gif below. It's a really great pitch, and it might be just a kick below where Griffin Roberts slider is at now/was at during draft night. It's followed by a fastball in both of the gifs below, too.
I don't want to advance too far without doubling back around to the injury issues. There's one point that needs to be made, and it needs to be read loudly:
ZacK Thompson has already had arm issues. He's also pitched in the toughest division in college baseball. It's reasonable to think that Thompson only has so many bullets before things have the potential to get weird. THE CARDINALS WOULD BE WISE TO GET THOMPSON TO THE MAJORS AS QUICKLY AS HIS OWN PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT ALLOWS.
Thompson isn't some kid in need of serious development. He's far away from his high-ceiling, but not in the way that he'll benefit from years in the minors. His slider and change need to get better, and he needs to stay healthy and in-shape, but I am certain that being cute with his timetable is the wrong thing to do here. As most of you know, I've never once supported the idea of rushing a player to the majors. NOT ONCE. I'm for it with Thompson, but only because I believe that he's close to being ready for it, and his health circumstances dictate the need for an accelerated timetable. That is, IF allowed by his own personal health and development.
Now, I already know where your mind went. Let me stop you right there. NO, THOMPSON SHOULD NOT BE AN OPTION FOR THE CARDINALS IN 2019. He's pitched a taxing amount of collegiate innings, many of which were high-stress at the end of the season. Couple that with the history of his arm concerns, and pitching out of various minor league bullpens until the minor league season ends at the end of August is the way to go.
I can promise you that you'll fall further and further in love with Thompson with the more you see of him. If I was forced to pick one pitcher that hasn't made a major league debut that will open eyes during spring training 2020, the easy and correct answer would be ZacK Thompson.
Thanks to Fangraph for the stats!
Thanks For Reading!!