NAME: Sterlin Thompson
SCHOOL: University of Florida
WEIGHT: 200 lbs
Were it not for the pandemic destroying Sterlin Thompson’s senior season in High School, he likely would have been drafted in 2020 out of North Marion High School (Citra, FL). MLB.com listed him within their top 200 and the outfielder was getting plenty of attention. Alas, the shortened draft in 2020 excluded him and Thompson went to the University of Florida.
At Florida, Thompson further developed into a hard-hitting corner outfielder. He really took off after a stint in the Florida Collegiate Summer League, where he gathered an OPS north of 1.000 in 46 ABs — with wooden bats.
He took the uptick in power into the 2022 season, as he raised his OPS with Florida by 100 points (from .880 to .984), and his ISO by 30 (from .172 to .210) in more at-bats. The increase in power, or at the very least the more consistent power output, seemed to coincide with a change in his batting stance.
The more upright, open stance from 2021, though successful in its own right, has been exchanged for a slightly more crouched down stance in 2022, with Thompson’s front foot being closed a little more than before as well. This change allows Thompson to get to outside pitches better and utilize the opposite field even more.
On several occasions during the 2022 season, teams shifted on Thompson, moving the infield to the right side of the diamond, and shading him as a pull hitter. Thompson took advantage by hitting the ball to left field for a base hit several times.
The signature bat-wobble is still there, though his hands are more upright in 2022, and closer to the direct line to the baseball. All these changes allow Thompson to get to pitches quicker, turn on inside pitches easier, while not giving up the opposite field potential. His current approach even allows him to inside-out tough pitches, from both right-handed and left-handed pitchers.
Thompson isn’t a speedy runner, though he will steal the occasional base (and get caught at times as well). Defensively, he has experience at third and in right field in college, after playing shortstop in high school. Currently, his skillset projects to be more in the corner outfield/first base area of the game. He will be 21 at the time of the Draft.
WHY WOULD THE WHITE SOX DRAFT STERLIN THOMPSON?
Because he’s a corner outfielder who can hit. It’s really that simple. Sure, the Sox have more than one power hitting corner outfield prospect in their organizational top 10 (Oscar Colas and Yoelqui Cespedes being the obvious ones), but the glaring hole in right field for the last, oh, decade in Chicago has made it clear that the White Sox can never have enough talented corner outfielders in their system.
Sterlin Thompson has shown the ability to hit, to learn quickly and to adapt to new environments. His defense does not have glaring holes, he isn’t a first baseman stuck in the outfield for lack of better options, and the bat has clear potential if the power output continues to increase as it has.
MOCK DRAFT RANKINGS
BaseballAmerica (Mock Draft 4.0, $) does not have Thompson among their first 30 picks in the Draft.
MLB.com (June 2nd) lists Thompson as a possibility for the White Sox, if only for the fact that Jonathan Mayo currently predicts the outfielder to fall to the supplemental round, at pick 32 to the Cincinnati Reds.
ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel (June 1st) also places Thompson firmly within White Sox range, as he predicts the Yankees at pick 25 — one ahead of the White Sox at 26 — could grab the hard-hitting outfielder, but he might not be their first choice. There would be a real chance for the White Sox at 26 to nab Thompson if they’d choose to.
Finally, Keith Law at The Athletic (May 19th, $) also keep Thompson on the board long enough for him to fall to the White Sox, as he predicts the Tampa Bay Rays at 29 to be Thompson’s destination.
54 G, 180 AB, .306/.402/.478, .880 OPS, .172 ISO, .382 BABIP, 39 R, 55 H, 10 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 2 SB, 21 BB, 44 K, 8 HBP.
2021 (Florida Collegiate Summer League)
14 G, 46 AB, .391/.481/.609, 1.090 OPS, .217 ISO, .385 BABIP, 13 R, 18 H, 1 2B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 5 SB, 8 BB, 4 K.
62 G, 238 AB, .340/.434/.550 .984 OPS, .210 ISO, .376 BABIP, 55 R, 81 H, 13 2B, 2 3B, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 9 SB, 35 BB, 46 K, 8 HBP.
Cover image: Florida Gators