With the 19th selection in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Cardinals selected left-handed pitcher Zack Thompson from the University of Kentucky. Thompson was the fifth pitcher taken in the first round and the second lefty. On Monday, Thompson became the highest drafted Wildcat in program history. Alex Meyer was formerly the highest, taken 23rd overall by the Nationals in 2011.
Thompson was originally drafted by the Rays back in the 11th round of the 2016 Draft but opted to go the college route. Thompson completed his junior year at the University of Kentucky with a 2.40 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 14 starts for the Wildcats. Thompson’s stellar 2019 campaign came after an elbow injury limited him to just nine appearances in his sophomore season.
Zack Thompson drafted by St. Louis Cardinals - A Sea of Blue
Last Saturday, @zack_thompson25 struck out for the third straight time a player hitting over .430, then walked off the mound to a spontaneous standing ovation and curtain call. Here’s what it sounded like: #WeAreUK pic.twitter.com/tclawV2RHz— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) May 25, 2019
The 21-year-old Thompson is armed with a solid pitch repertoire, with scouts ranking his fastball, slider, and curveball at 55/80. Thompson’s fastball typically radars in the low 90s, and his slider clocks in the low-to-mid 80s; scouting reports will suggest that these are his best tools. Thompson has a deep curveball, and his changeup - it ranks 50/80, his ‘worst’ pitch (if you look at the scouting grades) - definitely can improve to help polish what could be a tough four-pitch mix.
It’s understandable that there are some mixed reactions regarding how high Thompson was drafted, considering the recent elbow injury and his shoulder issues from high school. Nevertheless, Thompson bounced back in a big way this past spring and clearly has the potential to make it big on a big league mound.
Check back to Viva El Birdos regularly over the next few days for further coverage of the 2019 MLB Draft!
YouTube video is credited to Perfect Game Baseball.