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.
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 24-year-old should start 2018 in Birmingham's bullpen.
Major League Outlook: Middle or late inning reliever
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