While Thompson looked like a potential top-five-round pick coming out of the Indiana prep ranks in 2016, concerns about his shoulder and his commitment to Kentucky caused him to slide to the Rays in the 11th. But failed a post-Draft physical killed Thompson’s chances of receiving an above-slot bonus from Tampa Bay, and more medical questions arose when he missed two months as a sophomore with an elbow injury that didn't require surgery. He stayed healthy and did a much better job of throwing strikes in 2019, racking up 130 strikeouts against 34 walks while posting a 2.40 ERA. The Cardinals took Thompson with the No. 19 overall pick that June, making him the highest-drafted pitcher in Wildcats history, and he spent most of his pro debut working out of the bullpen at Class A Advanced Palm Beach.
As a southpaw with a strong frame and four pitches, Thompson has the ingredients to become a mid-rotation starter. He can run his fastball up to 96-97 mph in short bursts but works more in the low 90s as a starter, throwing his heater with life and angle. Thompson throws two different breaking balls: a mid-70s curveball that has a big shape and is a plus pitch at its best, and an above-average slider that plays in the mid-80s with late slicing action. He rounds out his arsenal with an average changeup.
Beyond the quality of his four pitches, Thompson knows how to mix them effectively and is consistently around the strike zone, albeit with more control than command. That he was able to complete 100-plus innings between college and pro ball in 2019 suggests that Thompson should be able to handle a greater workload in his first full season. He has the tools to move quickly if he can stay healthy, with a No. 3-starter ceiling and a back-of-the-rotation floor.