As the MLB Network went to commercial just before the Cardinals made their pick, a picture of three pitchers flashed on the screen. It seemed odd at the time that one player happened to be missing from that list who also went 19th just a year ago after dropping in St. Louis’ lap. Was it foreshadowing or maybe just good luck that the Cards got both in one package?
University of Kentucky ace Zack Thompson shouldn’t have been available when the Birds on the Bat happened to be on the clock. The same thing was said about Nolan Gorman 12 months ago, and those two could very well reach the majors at about the same time. Thompson was pegged anywhere from 10-15 in every recent mock draft and will become the top pitcher in the system for the Cardinals.
St. Louis typically doesn’t push first round starting pitchers the first summer, so that will be the second question to answer. The first will be his physical, since that may be the only negative that allowed Thompson to fall to #19. He was previously drafted in the 11th round out of high school in Indiana but chose the college route after shoulder issues were found. Much has been made about an elbow issue that kept him out of some SEC action last year, although he competed for Team USA over the summer and dominated this season.
No matter how you break it down, this pairing is a win for both team and player. Thompson gets to fly up the system with no clear obstacles in his way, and the Cardinals might have yet another first round steal that sees time in the majors very soon.