Mets Prospect David Thompson: Is a starting gig in his future?

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, PA - AUGUST 25: Baseballs sit on the ledge during the South Korea and Japan game during the International Championship game of the Little League World Series at Lamade Stadium on August 25, 2018 in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, PA - AUGUST 25: Baseballs sit on the ledge during the South Korea and Japan game during the International Championship game of the Little League World Series at Lamade Stadium on August 25, 2018 in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

New York Mets farmhand David Thompson is working his way back from injury and is one of the minor league players we could see in action in 2019.

Every spring the baseball world puts their eyes on Major League Baseball camps all throughout Arizona and Florida with the hopes of seeing what our minor league farm systems have developed. Several prospects come up and get a taste of what it’s like to face fellow big league players. At New York Mets Spring Training in 2019, there are plenty of stories to follow.

As fans, nothing beats the anticipation of seeing a player most of us have never seen play live come up for the first time in spring and start putting up terrific numbers either on the mound or at the plate. This usually leaves us with a feeling of added hope and excitement for what might be to come once the regular season gets going. It’s similar to the way we have a predetermined spending budget when going to buy groceries and unexpectedly find a crumpled up $20 bill on the sidewalk while walking on our way to the store.

One such prospect who I have found interesting and worth some possible anticipated hype on the Mets is former Miami Hurricanes third baseman and current prospect David Thompson. Thompson was a 4th round pick out of the University of Miami back in 2015. One thing that I found intriguing about Thompson coming out of Miami was his athletic pedigree all throughout his high school and collegiate years.

Thompson attended the Westminster Christian High School in Miami Florida as a teenager (which is the same high school attended by star Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez). At Westminster, David played basketball, baseball, and football as a varsity athlete. Not only was he the starting quarterback on the varsity team for a few years, but he also broke Alex Rodriguez’s state record for most home runs hit in a four-year span at a high school with 55 total home runs.

I have always found athletically gifted youngsters who play multiple sports to have the rawest potential and the most serious upside talent wise when it comes time to honing their particular craft. This is usually because they contain athletic skill sets that cannot be taught to most other players, no matter how long those other players have played the game.

If honed properly, these athletically gifted youngsters tend to possess an upside that may be limitless by the time they hit their stride in the pros. We have seen examples of this with multi-sport star athletes such as NBA Hall of Fame big man Hakeem Olajuwon and currently with Sixers star center Joel Embiid.

The University of Miami drafted Thompson to play both football and baseball at their school. Eventually, David settled down to only focus on playing baseball there. In his freshman year, he played in 52 games and posted an impressive line of .286/.368/.462 with 6 home runs and 46 RBI.

Unfortunately, his sophomore year was cut short due to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. However, Thompson still posted a respectable .278/.368/.352 line with 15 RBI in 30 games played. This was enough production for the Mets show interest and to draft him with their first-round pick in 2015.

Thompson spent all of 2015 with the Mets single A minor league team, the Brooklyn Cyclones. Although he did not impress much at the plate as was expected, he did attribute most of his struggles to fatigue he was facing as he had reported to play right away after just having finished playing in the College World Series with the Hurricanes a few weeks earlier. That coupled with his recovery from his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome bout seemed to have left him drained.

The following year, Thompson was assigned to play with both the Columbia Fireflies of the Class A South Atlantic League as well as with the St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League. This time he did not disappoint. Combined, he put up a .280 batting average with 11 home runs and 95 RBI between the two teams. He also started feeling stronger in his throwing arm since the surgery and also felt more comfortable waiting for his pitches at the plate. Selectivity had always been an issue for him while at Miami and the Mets coaching staff worked hard with him to cut down on his strikeouts.

In 2017, Thompson was promoted to Double-A Binghamton where he continued to work on his fielding and selectivity while in the batter’s box.  In 133 games at Double-A, he hit .263 with 16 home runs and 68 RBI. It was at this point where scouts were starting to rank him as a top 15 prospect within the Mets minor league organization. It was also around this time where I started tracking David myself, as all us Mets fans know how hard it has been to find a decent everyday replacement for David Wright since his injury in 2015. I saw Thompson as that possible glimmer of hope to take the torch from the captain and continue on as his legitimate heir at the hot corner.

Before being promoted to start the year with the Mets’ Triple-A Las Vegas team in 2018, the Mets invited Thompson to Spring Training to see what he could do against better competition at the pro level. Watching him hit last Spring I was not disappointed. Thompson ended up playing in 16 games last Spring Training and batted .348 with eight hits, one double and three runs scored.

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Many Mets fans (myself included) started to raise our eyebrows as our interests peaked a bit. David was putting aggressive at-bats together, attacking big league pitchers early and fouling off tough pitches to stay alive late in counts. Perhaps the Mets had found something here despite his earlier setbacks.

Unfortunately, that hint of excitement and hope sparked by his early success in Spring Training last season got cut short quickly during his year at Las Vegas. Twenty-three games into the Triple-A season Thompson suffered a hairline fracture in his left hand after being hit by a pitch and had to spend almost two months on the IL since. He was batting .260 at the time and unfortunately only played three more games for Las Vegas last season after his recovery.

Overall Thompson has been described by scouts as a solid contact bat that continues to cut down on strikeouts and continues to improve on his pitch selection as evidenced by his ability to draw more and more walks. When coming out of college, he was seen more as a power bat but now has morphed into more of a doubles gap and a line drive hitter.

Defensively he has been described as agile with better than average range and soft hands for a guy his size. Even though throwing velocity and accuracy was his Achilles heel out of college, he has worked hard to improve that in his minor league career to the point where it is now seen as respectable.

Expect to see Thompson start the 2019 year back in Triple-A with the Mets, platooning with either third base prospect Mark Vientos or J.D. Davis at the hot corner down in the minors.

Earlier in Spring Training of 2019, we did see Thompson get a shot to start and deliver by hitting a three-run home run off of a lefty pitcher from the Houston Astros. This is definitely a good sign that his hand is healing nicely and he is ready to become assertive once more.

But I honestly think it would take a miracle for him to be called up this season to the Majors unless the team is really out of the pennant race by late August and want to see what they have with their youngsters by then. The Mets have incredible depth at third base with Lowrie, McNeil, Todd Frazier, Davis and possibly even T.J. Rivera or Adeiny Hechavarria as defensive options for the hot corner going into 2019.

Realistically I think Hechavarria ends up not making the 25-man roster and thus saving the Mets $3 million in a bonus option they would be required to pay him if he makes the roster on Opening Day. With Lowrie having issues with his left knee and Rivera still not fully over the pain he is suffering since having Tommy John Surgery in his elbow, more than likely the Mets will put McNeil over at third base until one of either Frazier heals or Jed Lowrie is able to play the majority of the time at third.

Should Thompson have a stellar year at Triple-A Syracuse this year, the Mets still might make the 25-year-old Floridian wait to get called up to the majors much like they did with first base prospect Pete Alonso last season.

General manager Brodie Van Wagenen has been known to be loyal to former CAA clients and may end up doing whatever it takes to get them playing time during the season. Jed Lowrie is one of those clients and he may try to do all he can to keep Lowrie on the field once he fully recovers. With first base looking to be more and more locked up by Alonso to start 2019, third base will be the most likely option where Lowrie will get most of his playing time.

Again, this does not bode well for Thompson’s chances.

As a realistic and optimistic fan looking towards the future, midway through 2020 or Opening Day 2021 would be the most likely scenario that we see Thompson called up and playing every day with this Mets team. Of course, he will have to show a vast and steady improvement from his 2017 Binghamton numbers for this to occur as well as the Mets unwillingness to go out and spend money on a big-time free agent once the contracts of Lowrie and Frazier actually expire.

But as long as the Mets don’t go out and sign an everyday starting left or right outfielder, there is still an outside shot that Thompson can get called up for a week or two to showcase what he can do in the big leagues for the Mets in 2019.

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Unfortunately, it will take the Mets being twenty-something games under .500 by sometime late August and also getting ravaged with a plethora of injuries to their infielders for that to be a reality.