Ht: 6'7" Wt: 230
Acquired: Drafted 5th round from Texas-Arlington in 2014
FutureSox Prospect Rankings
- #29 - 2016 Midseason
This very tall right-hander came out of UT-Arlington with reports of being a relatively raw 20-year-old for a college draftee, but armed with a big fastball from a high release. Numbers-wise, his first two seasons as a pro weren't bad but didn't exactly jump out either. In 2015 as a 21-year-old in Kannapolis, he posted a 4.44 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 16 starts, striking out 7.7 batters per nine innings and walking 4.4. But then repeating the level in 2016, Thompson seemed to make a big leap - in that same number of starts (16) he posted a 2.62 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 9.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9. He was then promoted to Winston-Salem, where he threw more strikes (2.5 BB/9) but got hit a bit (10.9 H/9) and didn't miss as many bats (6.6 K/9) in ten starts. 2017 was a rough year back with the Dash, starting 14 games before moving to a bullpen role but not seeing much change in his numbers.
It all finally clicked for Thompson in 2018, as he became the shutdown reliever the Sox may of envisioned when they transitioned him into the role. He posted a 1.55 ERA with 76 punchouts over 75.1 innings split between Winston-Salem and Birmingham. To cap off the tremendous campaign, Thompson was sent to the prestigious Arizona Fall League and posted a 2.70 ERA over 13.1 innings with a 15/6 K/BB ratio. Thompson just missed our 2019 preseason top 30 rankings, but he emerged as a possible bullpen option for the 2019 White Sox team and beyond.
Zach's stuff is a little different than what he came into the system with. He's got two fastballs - a 4-seamer that can still run to the mid-90's, and a 2-seam sinker a little lower than that, both of them with significant downhill plane. His main breaking pitch is now a knuckle-curve, which comes in around 80-ish. He's also got a change-up. Based on local reports, Thompson's fastballs both have a little more life now, and that spiked curveball works well when it's on. The profile here still seems like a reliever more than a starter, and he seems to now be settled into that role. Control over command is still the word here, and the 25-year-old should start 2019 in Charlotte's bullpen with an eye on the major leagues at some point during the year.
Major League Outlook: Middle or late inning reliever
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