Chicago Cubs: Checking in on the Cubs top five pitching prospects

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Chicago Cubs
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The Chicago Cubs loaded up on pitching prospects in the 2017 MLB Draft. They drafted Thompson in the third round.

The Chicago Cubs drafted right-handed starting pitcher Keegan Thompson with the final pick in the third round of the 2017 Major League Baseball draft. Thompson was originally selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 33rd round of the 2016 draft, but chose to return to Auburn University after having Tommy John Surgery. He wanted to prove scouts and all doubters that he was healthy with no limitations on pitch counts.

Thompson dazzled in his final season with the Tigers, finishing with a 7-4 record over 15 starts to the tune of a 2.41 ERA. That was more than good enough for the Cubs to come calling in the third round. After being drafted, Thompson was assigned to Class-A short-season Eugene. With the Emeralds, Thompson was eased into the rotation, starting just one game. However, he pitched 19 innings with 23 strikeouts and allowing just four walks.

With no restrictions, Thompson split his 2018 season between High-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee pitching 129.2 innings with 115 strikeouts and a 3.61 ERA. He did allow 34 walks and 52 earned runs, so that will be something to monitor going forward.

Scouts really like Thompson’s curveball and slider. He does a great job of keeping batter’s off balance and mixing up his pitches (via

"Thompson’s best pitches are his curveball and his slider. His upper-70s curve flashed plus more often in college, while his low-80s slider was his more consistent breaker in 2018. He uses 89-92 mph two-seam fastballs with sink and can reach back to hit 95 when he turns to his four-seamer. Thompson also demonstrates feel for a changeup with some sink. He can’t blow the ball by hitters but instead keeps them off balance by mixing his pitches and pounding the strike zone. He has one of the higher floors among Cubs starting pitching prospects, projecting as a workhorse toward the back of a rotation."

Keegan Thompson has made just one start so far with Tennessee this season. He pitched five innings and did not allow any runs while striking out eight batters. Thompson also allowed just one walk. He doesn’t allow a lot of home runs, but he’ll need to reduce the number of earned runs allowed as he continues to progress towards the big league club. He is currently projected to reach the majors this season, potentially as a September call-up.