Thompson twirls 3 scoreless frames in AFL

November 1st, 2021
Zack Thompson spent the 2021 Minor League season with Triple-A Memphis.Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After a rough 2021 season, was sent to the Arizona Fall League with the opportunity to make some adjustments, get back on track and finish the year on a high note.

So far, he’s taking full advantage of the opportunity.

“The fresh start definitely helped,” Thompson said after Glendale’s 8-5 win over Salt River. “Triple-A forced me to learn a changeup, that helped a lot. I learned the hard way, getting into bad counts. It’s hard to live that way, so really focusing on getting ahead out here.”

Thompson may not have had his best stuff Monday, but he still spun three scoreless innings for his second win of the fall.

The Cardinals’ No. 8 prospect threw 17 of his 33 pitches for strikes, sat in the low to mid-90s with his fastball and faced the minimum despite issuing one walk and giving up a hit.

“Very happy with it,” Thompson said of his performance. “A lot more efficient than I’ve been really all year. It was good to get after it, eat up a couple innings for the guys.”

The 24-year-old was selected in the first round of the 2019 Draft (19th overall) and has been moved aggressively up the ladder. He spent 2020 at the alternate training site and made his full-season debut this past season at Triple-A.

Thompson struggled with Memphis, posting a 7.06 ERA over 93 innings (22 games, 19 starts). While the southpaw and the Cardinals wish the numbers had been better, Thompson did take a lot away from the experience and feels it was positive for his overall development.

“That was massive for me,” he said. “Being able to shove at every level doesn’t really help you. You only learn through failure. That was huge for me this year and it’s going to be huge for me moving forward. I learned a lot.”

The lessons have been paying dividends already, Thompson has been lights-out in Arizona.

The lefty has posted a 1.50 ERA and struck out 13 through six appearances (12 innings) with the Desert Dogs. He hasn’t had to battle much adversity in Arizona, but faced a bit Monday as he struggled with command.

“Just attacking with all my pitches, really focusing on landing the breaking ball early,” Thompson said. “Struggled with it a little bit today, but found a rhythm with the fastball and changeup and just battled through it.”

Thompson’s strong AFL campaign marks one of several big performances from St. Louis prospects. Juan Yepez (STL 27) is hitting .286 in Arizona and outfield prospect Lars Nootbaar, who finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs on Monday, is batting .354.

“It’s great to see them both succeeding,” Thompson said. “They’re both hitting the cover off the ball. Great guys, great teammates, it’s awesome to see them succeed.”

The loss, Salt River’s fourth in a row, dropped the Rafters’ record to 6-9 on the season. Michael Toglia (Rockies No. 6) went 1-for-4 and drove in a trio of runs. Toglia drove home the first run of the game via a groundout in the first and brought home a pair with a single in the second.