Offseason Prospect Overview: Keegan Thompson

Keegan Thompson (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Keegan Thompson (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Season Review

The most experienced and polished hurler from the Cubs college pitching heavy 2017 draft class, Thompson earned an assignment to High-A right out of spring training and then pitched well enough to receive a midseason promotion to AA, making him the only arm from the group to reach that level in their first full professional season.

Once more of a power arm before 2016 TJS at Auburn, Thompson lacks some of the juice on his stuff that he once possessed prior to a 2016 TJS while attending Auburn, but he transformed himself from thrower to pitcher in the interim, and there were flashes of improved velocity and stuff at times in 2018. In a typical outing, Thompson won't blow hitters away though. Instead he changes speeds as he mixes multiple fastball types with three offspeed pitches to keep hitters guessing. When he works the edges he is effective, when he leaves pitches over the heart of the plate he gets hit hard. 

Positives

Thompson not only throws the standard three secondary pitches (curve, slider, change) but he also shows three distinct fastballs as well. His velocity tops out around 92-93 in most outings with his four seamer, and then he will back that up with a two-seamer a couple MPH off that, as well as a high-80s cutter.

His curve was known as his best pitch coming out, but his slider has also developed into a solid offering. They show good bite when he keeps them down and to his glove side, but they seem to flatten out otherwise. He is willing to throw both pitches to right as well as left-handed batters. His changeup shows good arm side fade and flashes good sink as well. None of his secondary pitches rate highly, but he generates sufficient whiffs thanks to his willingness to throw each in fastball counts.

On June 14th he turned in one of the best performances of any Cubs prospect when he struck out eight batters across seven perfect innings. It was a good example of how tough he can be when he commands multiple pitches on the edges of the zone.

Negatives

The negatives for Thompson are pretty much the same as his positives. His stuff is solid but nothing special and he lacks one particular pitch he can rely on and/or fall back on when needed.

His command is also not as sharp as you would like for a non-power pitcher. There is intent behind some of his misses outside the zone, especially the breaking balls, but he'll also catch too much plate with his fastballs on an inning-by-inning basis.

Summation

Keegan Thompson (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Keegan Thompson (photo by Stephanie Lynn)

Thompson attacks hitters with multiple pitches that he is willing to use in just about any count. His command is adequate, but nothing special, and his stuff is basically average across the board so it is imperative Thompson execute a plan that keeps hitters off balance every time out. Many successful Major League pitchers are migrating away from a first pitch fastball approach and Thompson is one of the few starters in the system that consistently executes this type of game plan. Thompson will get a chance in the Majors, but his low ceiling as a back of the rotation starter or swing man means he will need to quickly seize any opportunities that do come his way if he hopes to carve out a full-time role. He likely won't receive many chances if he fails initially.

2019 Outlook

Thompson remained successful after his promotion to AA, but with a crowded Iowa pitching staff in 2019, Thompson is likely ticketed for a return trip to Tennessee, at least for a while. I do think he is AAA ready, or close to it at this point, but he'll have to wait his turn unless his performance takes enough of a jump to force the issue.

Comments

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  • I’ve liked this pick from the beginning. He’s got the repertoire of breaking balls & fastballs. His K/BB rate is good. Sounds like he just needs experience working on the command vs better hitters as he goes up the chain. Cubs need pitchers, so the more the merrier with these prospect guys.

  • Stack up the pitching prospects.

  • Pretty easy to feel positive about Thompson. His AA experience should help him develop better command of his pitches. If he does, he could be at MLB level quickly.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I agree, he seems to have a high floor and a respectable ceiling of maybe a #4. That’s a solid draft pick who will likely contribute soon. I think the Cubs will have their 4 and 5 spots filled via the Farm in 2020 with Hendricks leading the rotation. I believe Hendricks will be very productive into his late 30s with his easy mechanics and reliance on control. You will have to start wondering where you find a 1 and a 2/3 beyond that.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    He has an MLB caliber approach that separates him from many of the pitching prospects in the system right now. He has no fear and throws all of his pitches in just about every count. If his stuff or command improves just a tad more he would become a virtual lock for some form of MLB role (assuming healthy).

  • During the last few weeks they have signed many pitchers. Any of them good

  • Don’t mean to derail the thread Michael but the white Sox offered machado 7 years 175!! You kidding me man? That’s higher aav than heyward but less overall money wow I wish the cubs could get in on this

    And maddon said no chance of harper and Jim Bowden said no big moves for the cubs this offseason they never even engaged with Harper

  • In reply to bolla:

    I will be surprised if he signs for that, but at least the white sox can tell their fans "we tried..." If the Cubs could get him around that price range, I'd sure like to see them pull the trigger.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Yup I think the yankees or phillies will swoop in and top that.Under 200 mil for machado is a low ball offer imo. I still don't feel good about the cubs doing anything major, every local; and national reporter has said they won't. I hope they're wrong but if not I'll go back to panicking

  • In reply to bolla:

    Bubbles why don't you ask your inside source what's going on?

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    I don’t see anything that needs to be corrected or clarified so you serve no purpose error boy. You’re an wannabe editor online lol at your life

  • In reply to bolla:

    "You’re an wannabe editor online lol at your life" Should read "You’re a wannabe editor online lol at your life. Fake rumor boy.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Thanks geek for correcting one letter online wannabe spell check. What an existence

  • In reply to bolla:

    LOL Bubble you're a funny dude. Now go away.

  • In reply to bolla:

    I don't mind you guys discussing this stuff in the comments. As you have probably noticed, I've stopped posting rumor threads.

    I just don't care for rumors, don't believe 99% of them that are out there, and can't bring myself to expend the necessary energy to keep up with posts about them. We used to have a couple writers that loved this aspect of the offseason and were able to bring humor and fun into posts, but right now we don't really have anyone interested in covering them, and I think my dislike for it tends to bleed into my writing about them (which doesn't lend to good entertainment for anyone reading).

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I understand , it can be draining all the rumors and conflicting reports. The cubs aren’t doing anything big imo but I still like to see what’s going on in mlb

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