Prospect Profile: RHP Jeff Thompson

The Tigers third round selection in the 2013 MLB Draft was big Louisville right-hander Jeff Thompson, who saw his college season come to an end on Monday night when the Cardinals lost to Oregon State in the College World Series. What does Thompson bring to the table that made him so desirable to the Tigers?

Jeff Thompson
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-6
Weight: 245
Born: 9/23/1991
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Acquired: 2013 MLB Draft, 3rd Round
Ranking History: N/A

Thompson, the Tigers third round pick earlier this month, emerged as a go-to arm for Louisville in 2012 as he posted a 9-4 record and 4.00 ERA in 15 starts for the Cardinals.

He stepped to the forefront even more in 2013 with an 11-1 record, 2.00 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning in 16 starts this year. His season peaked with a dominating performance against highly-ranked Vanderbilt in superregional play just after the draft.

Thompson's Louisville club earned a trip to the College World Series where fellow Tigers draft choice Chad Green was touched up in the team's opening round game against Indiana. Thompson took the loss against Oregon State on Monday, ending Louisville's season.

Scouting Report
Thompson fits the mold of a prototypical Tigers draft pick, towering over hitters with a sturdy 6-foot-6, 245 pound frame. Thompson is a well-built and athletic player with a history as a defensive line prospect coming out of high school.

Thompson's bread and butter is a 90-92 mph fastball that comes at hitters on a steep downward angle. He easily reaches back for 94-95 mph when he needs more and he will sit in that range for a couple innings at a time. Some scouts see concerns with how visible the ball is throughout Thompson's delivery, while others believe the natural life on his fastball can compensate for any early looks hitters get.

In addition to his quality heater, Thompson relies heavily on a slider that flashes plus potential. He utilizes the same arm slot as his fastball and generates extremely tight spin and darting two-plan movement. He has a knack for finishing his slider out of the strike zone as a chase pitch and will need to bring the pitch into the zone more as a pro; relying on the late movement to fool hitters in the strike zone.

Thompson mixes a changeup into his starts at times but will need to rely on the pitch more heavily as a professional. He lacks command with his changeup and doesn't always maintain his arm speed, giving the pitch away. With work, Thompson could feature a third pitch that grades at least average.

A well-coordinated athlete, Thompson repeats his delivery well and pounds the strike zone with his fastball. He profiles to have excellent control and he has a chance to develop above-average command as well.

Thompson's warts are not significant but they are the type of nuanced developments that many players struggle with when they need to take the next step in the professional game. Thompson's ability to improve his command, overall feel and changeup will determine if he is capable of remaining a starter or if he will move to the bullpen. In the rotation, Thompson could max out as an inning-eating number three starter. In the bullpen, his ceiling likely tops out in the eighth inning.
























Health Record
Thompson has not suffered any injuries during his college career and his massive frame and excellent strength suggest he should be a durable pro.

Thompson should move quickly through the lower levels of the Tigers system. He has the stuff to overpower young hitters and when he reaches Double-A, his command and feel will be tested. Thompson has as much upside as any of the Tigers top picks in this year's draft but his lack of experience against high-end collegiate talent leaves him less polished than most three-year college arms. Given more of a middle-of-the-road developmental outcome, Thompson has a decent change to become a solid number four starter.

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