Zach Thompson isn’t like Potential Rule 5 Draft Pick Jackson McClellan who I wrote up yesterday. He doesn’t throw 101 mph. Thompson works around 92 to 94 but can bump it up in the bullpen in really short stints as evidenced when he bumped 97 in the 2016 South Atlantic League All Star Game. McClellan is 6’7″ tall so he does have that long frame that is good for pitchers.
McClellan throws the fastball, has a good cutter, throws a curve, and a change. His cutter has a some glove side jump on it and I’ve seen good RHHs flinch on it. It’s a difference maker for him. The curve has some slurvy movement but it has been described as plus at times. Hitters don’t pick the curve up well and chase it. He can use it to strike out both RHHs and LHHs. Thompson can throw the curve off the plate as a chase pitch to RHHs or freeze them inside. He can also throw it to the back foot of a LHH. I didn’t see a lot of the change up but it wasn’t bad against LHHs.
This season was his first in the bullpen, and he really excelled in the new role. As a starter, he showed some potential but just couldn’t quite make it out of High-A. As a reliever, he was dominate putting up an ERA of 1.55, a WHIP of 1.14, a 3.46 BB/9, 9.08 K/9.
I watched several games of video on him and he just gets the job done. Hitters don’t pick up his cutter or his curve well at all and he uses that to his advantage. He is a smart pitcher who I think is polished. He has a strategy, and he uses it. I think Thompson is a guy that could stick in an MLB bullpen for the 2019 season. Especially the Royals pen. Honestly, I was surprised to see him available and not protected by the White Sox. But, a lot of that has to do with the guys who are ahead of him being guys who are considered better prospects. Thompson really took a step forward this season and his results are the product of the work he put in.
Check out the Baseball Census video of him getting Potential Rule 5 Draft Pick Ray-Patrick Didder to fly out to left, Ian Miller striking out on a back foot curve, Keston Hiura striking out chasing a curve running off the plate, Evan White buckling on a cutter before striking out, Joe McCarthy striking out looking, and Cristian Pache chasing a curve in the dirt to K. Yes, 5 of those 6 guys are in their teams Top 20 prospect lists.
Photo from MiLB.com and taken by Brian Westerholt.