It may not have been the best season for Kentucky Baseball, but the 2019 team can say they had an MLB first-round pick on the roster.
Starting pitcher Zack Thompson was selected in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 19th pick of Monday’s opening night of the MLB Draft.
Thompson was initially taken in the 11th round of the 2016 Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, but he opted to join the Wildcats instead.
By being taken in the first round, Thompson becomes the second Wildcat in the last three years (Evan White, 2017) to be a first-round selection. At 19, Thompson becomes the highest drafted pitcher in Kentucky history. He will become the lone current Wildcat in the Cardinals organization.
After posting a 3.45 ERA and helping the Cats reach the super regionals in his freshman season of 2017 Thompson suffered an elbow injury in 2018 costing him two months of the season.
In 2019, however, he’d bounce back in a huge way, finishing the season 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA while striking out 130 batters in just 90 innings pitched.
The big season landed him All-SEC Second Team honors. Since Thompson is a junior, he could opt to return to Kentucky for one more season, but that seems out of the cards as Thompson already said his goodbyes to the Big Blue Nation via Instagram, and it’s very hard to pass on first-round money.
This is a huge accomplishment for Thompson and an excellent look for Kentucky Baseball, as they had a major role in developing an eventual first-round selection.
As the draft rolls on later this week, many other Wildcats could hear their name called. The most notable names include T.J. Collett, Ryan Shinn and Carson Coleman among several others who are also draft eligible.