Injuries become the bane of existence for any professional athlete. Progress is hindered and opportunities for future promise becomes lost and forgotten. Previous roles become muttered in confusion despite frantic efforts to return after elongated rehab. Frustration mounts as labels are bestowed upon, in some cases prematurely and potentially devastating for future employment. Potential remains, but it takes one place to unearth the past and absorb the risk. During his time at the University of Miami, third baseman David Thompson suffered an array of injuries, including a debilitating medical condition sidelining him early in his collegiate career. Now armed with a clean bill of health as the New York Mets 4th round draft pick, Thompson is looking to build off a junior season in which he led college baseball in home runs and runs batted in, as he takes the next step in his career with the Brooklyn Cyclones.
As baseball transitions to a game focused on run prevention and shifting, right-handed power hitters are becoming both scarce and valuable, especially for scouts and clubs seeking cost-effective internal options instead of opting for the free agent market. David Thompson, a third baseman out of Miami possesses a unique blend of bat speed and power from the right side of the batter’s box rarely seen these days in professional baseball. At Westminster Christian Academy, Thompson starred as a three-sport athlete. On the gridiron, Thompson was on his way towards becoming one of the top quarterbacks in the state, throwing for 2,055 yards and 20 touchdowns in his senior season. During the spring and summer, Thompson would display his inane ability on the diamond, proceeding to eclipse every statistical benchmark and record set by Alex Rodriguez. Thompson also set the state records for home runs in both a season with 19 and a career with 55, (Miami Herald).
Thompson’s potential seemed almost unlimited as he was on his way to become of the most prestigious athletes in the state’s history. After achieving widespread acclaim during his time at Westminster, Thompson became eligible for the 2012 Major League Baseball draft, as the New York Yankees took him with their 38th round selection. With a commitment to the University Miami and a scholarship offer in both baseball and football on the table, Thompson chose to delay a career in professional baseball and join the Miami Hurricanes. After initially considering a two sport collegiate career, Thompson chose to exclusive focus his attention on baseball for his freshman season, where he batted .282 with six home runs and 46 runs batted in.
Looking to build on his modest freshman campaign, Thompson discovered he had suffered from Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a condition affecting his blood vessels and nerves near his ribs, leading to a blood clot and removal of a rib. The ailment caused Thompson to miss nearly half of his sophomore season and would be the fourth surgery endured since high school. The ordeal caused Thompson to contemplate giving up baseball, before doctors gave him a clean bill of health entering his junior season. It was there that Thompson established himself as arguably the premier hitter in college baseball, leading the NCAA with 19 home runs, entering the College World Series and the ACC with 90 runs batted in. Thompson would be named a finalist for the Dick Howser Award for his achievements. In June, the New York Mets took notice of Thompson’s progression, drafting him early in the 4th round, assigning him to the short-season affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones, where he currently leads the team in slugging percentage. Baseball Essential recently caught up with Thompson as he continues to progress and establish himself in the Mets organization.
BASEBALL ESSENTIAL: In high school, you were a quarterback on the football team before tearing your labrum. How did the injury occur and did it sway you into a baseball career?
DAVID THOMPSON: “Well, yeah. I hurt it in the All-American Marines game in football. I still went to the University of Miami to play baseball and football. I suffered another labrum injury and the offensive coordinator left, so I gave up football”.
BBE: On the baseball diamond at Westminster Christian High School, you broke a number a records set by Alex Rodriguez, most notably home runs and RBI. What did it mean for you to set those marks and were you surprised that you were able to achieve them?
DT: “It meant a lot because they were A-Rod’s records and stuff like that, but we had a great team and a great coach in Emil Castellanos who really helped us a lot and it was a blessing to play of him and break A-Rod’s records”.
BBE: As a freshman you learned that you suffer from thoracic outlet syndrome. What exactly is the condition and how are you feeling physically after these ailments?
DT: “I am feeling good now. Thoracic outlet syndrome is a blood clot, so they (the doctors) to go in and take out my first rib actually, but I feeling great now. All of those injuries are behind me, which is great and hopefully I can stay healthy from here on out”.
BBE: By your junior season, you were a force to be reckoned with in the ACC batting .333/.445/.658 slash line. What type of conditioning did you do that offseason to propel you to have a banner season?
DT: “I just did what I have always done. Working out hard. Working with our strength coach in the University of Miami and I was up in the Cape Cod League for summer ball and worked with the Orleans Firebirds with their coaches, Benny Craig especially, helped me out a lot with my hitting”.
BBE: Scouts have said that while you are a natural third baseman that first base could be your eventual position. Could you see yourself moving across the diamond at some point during your pro career?
DT: “I just want to play, so wherever they want to put me, I am all for. I feel like third base is my best spot and I am excited to be able to play now.”
BBE: Coming out of high school you were a 38th round pick from the Yankees out of Westminster. Fellow alums Alex Rodriguez and Doug Mientkiewicz played for them during their career. Did you envision yourself at any point taking their offer instead of attending Miami?
DT: “No, it was a pretty easy decision for me to go to Miami. I dreamt of going there my whole life and being drafted so late out of high school made it an easy decision”.
BBE: In June, the New York Mets selected you in the 4th round. What type of preparation does an amateur player go through before being drafted and before signing?
DT: “I was still playing college baseball when the draft was going on. It was a blessing to play in the College World Series and stuff like that, but I pretty much got home and got up here (to Brooklyn) when the College World Series ended.”
BBE: The Brooklyn Cyclones are one of the most celebrated teams in all of minor league baseball. What does it mean for you to begin your career in an atmosphere that is comparable to a higher level of the minors?
DT: “It’s awesome. This is one of the most fun places I have ever played at. Everybody has told me it does not get better than this in the minor leagues and I am just happy to be here”.
Durability is an attribute sometimes taken for granted when scouting a player. The ability to stay on the field and remain in the lineup, while withstanding doubleheaders, slumps, and elongated road trips proves increasingly valuable in a sport when turnover is both constant and incessant. Injuries detract from performance, causing internal doubt and the perception of fragility. Sometimes it takes a landmark season to erase those concerns and reassert previous dominance. David Thompson achieved one of those in his junior season in Miami, leading Division I in the traditional offensive metrics and reestablishing himself as a viable draft prospect. Thompson will begin in the New York Mets system with the Short-Season Brooklyn Cyclones, hoping to offer the value of a first round draft pick and perhaps eventually succeed David Wright in Flushing.