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Phillies 2019 draft preview: Zack Thompson

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MLB: Philadelphia Phillies-Bryce Harper Press Conference Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Thompson is a 6’2” 225 lbs left handed pitcher at the University of Kentucky. Thompson missed most of his 2018 season with an elbow injury, but he did prove to be healthy enough to make a 3 game appearance with the Collegiate National team last Summer. Obviously teams will need to take a very close look at the medicals and make sure they’re comfortable with the elbow.

As far as his stuff goes, Thompson has a plus Fastball, plus Slider, average change-up and a Curveball with average potential. What he hasn’t had a lot of is control. Until this year, that is. He averaged around 5 walks per nine innings his Freshman and Sophomore year (which, to be fair, was only 31 innings), but has cut to under 3 per nine innings this year. From scouting reports, this doesn’t look like a fluke, Thompson is athletic and repeats his delivery well, so scouting reports widely expected he just needed more reps to dial in the control. Further improvement in that area may be possible and a mid-rotation ceiling is realistic.

Video below from Perfect Game. This video is pretty recent and I love this delivery. Looks the same every time. Toes pointed straight at home plate. Good tilt and nice movement on the pitches. It’s hard to find anything to say about it. I think with more reps, there’s more ceiling for control/command. Now, when scouts talk about #2 Starter they’re talking about a defined mix of pitch quality and control/command and that’s what I’m referring to as well when I say #1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. That said, when fans say it and when we refer to pros, I think we’re all referring to a level of value/WAR a player provides. I think Thompson could end up having #3 stuff in prospect terms, but provide #2 value because of his expected future ability to locate those pitches.

The 14th pick is a tough spot to draft. In most drafts I feel like the top talent tends to thin out after the 10th pick, so you have to hope a few teams reach for need or overvalue something most don’t to drop someone to you. In the bottom of the round, you’re fine taking risks on high ceiling guys. Of course, if the Phillies had hit clear, no doubt home runs on Randolph, Moniak, Haseley or Bohm, this would be easy to take a risk, but there’s a bit of extra pressure to get good value this year.

Personally I’d be thrilled with Thompson as the Phillies pick. I frankly don’t like doing Pitcher previews, I don’t know why, but I feel more natural reviewing and analyzing hitters (I’ve been a big fan of some terrible hitters, so I’m not saying I’m better at it). That said, I can watch Thompson pitching video all day, it’s so clean and repeatable and I really think he can refine the control to the point everything plays up. Now we just need 13 teams to not realize that for another 5 weeks or so.