With the 18th pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, the Cardinals selected LHP Zack Thompson out of Kentucky. With the lack of depth in the college starting pitching class, teams are looking for anyone that stands out as a potential rotation piece. Thompson certainly fits the bill there, although he does come with his fair share of risk.
Standing at 6-foot-2 and 225, Thompson looks the part of a sturdy lefty that should be able to put up meaningful amounts of innings. His fastball sits in the low 90’s and going a tick higher here and there and there is decent movement that comes along with it making it his best pitch. He also throws a mid 80’s slider with good bite to it most of the time although it has been a bit inconsistent at times. His curve and changeup lag behind the first two pitches, although the changeup shows signs of being above average and plays fairly well off of his fastball. Thompson was highly regarded out of high school as well and turned down a decent amount of money to go to Kentucky, so he has some pedigree as a prospect as well.
For Thompson, it comes down to staying healthy and maintaining command of all of his offerings. He already had to miss some time during his sophomore season with a sore elbow, so how his medicals check out will be something to monitor going forward. His command has been spotty at times during his college career with walk rates his freshman and sophomore years being...well, less than first round material. He has only walked 34 batters in 90 innings this season which is a marked improvement, but some do wonder if that will stick as a pro. If his secondaries improve and he can keep his command, he could be a middle of the rotation starter...but that does assume he can stay healthy and command his pitches as a pro.