LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky junior left-handed pitcher Zack Thompson has been named Preseason First-Team All-America by Baseball America, it was announced on Monday. The distinction is voted on by Major League Baseball scouting directors, who selected the nation’s top collegiate players heading into the 2019 season.
Thompson, a 6-foot-3, 225-pounder from Selma, Indiana, is considered one of the top prospects for this summer’s MLB Draft and is expected to fill UK’s coveted Friday night starter role held by former Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year Sean Hjelle the past two seasons. The southpaw is 10-4 with a 3.88 earned run average and 138 strikeouts in 106.2 innings over his first two seasons. He has appeared in 29 games with 20 starts during that time.
Long praised for his talent, Thompson lived up to his reputation last summer while with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, which went 12-3 overall in three series against Chinese Taipei, Japan and Cuba. Thompson went 1-0 and did not allow a run in 8.2 innings while appearing in one game against each country. He yielded just three hits and struck out seven, earning the win in the series-clinching game of the 7th annual USA-Cuba International Friendship Series.
Thompson’s pristine summer with USA Baseball came on the heels of a sophomore season where he missed two months due to injury, yet still flummoxed hitters when healthy. He made nine appearances with seven starts, posting a 2-1 record in 31.0 inning and allowed just 24 hits while striking out 42, good for a 12.19 K/9 innings rate. Opponents hit just .212 and had only five extra-base hits against him.
As a freshman in 2017, he pitched in 20 games, starting 13, and went 8-3 with a 3.45 ERA in 75.2 innings. He gave up just 50 hits and struck out 96, earning First-Team Freshman All-America honors from Perfect Game/Rawlings. His performance ranks second on UK single-season list for hits allowed per nine innings with just 5.95, and he enters the 2019 season second on the school’s career list in the same category.
Thompson ranks among Division I-A’s active leaders in both hits allowed per nine innings (6.24) and strikeouts per nine innings (11.64), both of which are currently the second-best career marks among active SEC pitchers. His 138 career strikeouts in just two seasons leaves him needing just 62 to become the 14th UK pitcher to reach 200 and 77 shy of moving into the school’s all-time top 10. He currently ranks second on the program’s all-time hits allowed per nine innings chart.