UW Class of 2012 signee Shaquille Thompson was just drafted by Boston in the 18th round of the Major League Draft, with the 571st overall pick.
He’s listed at 6-2, 225 pounds and as a right-handed hitting and throwing outfielder.
As I wrote a few times last February, Thompson had decided this spring to play baseball for the first time in a few years with his eye on getting drafted. His hope is to play pro baseball in the summer and then college football in the fall — so getting drafted is not expected in any way to change his plans coming to UW.
And also interesting to see that he is officially going by the name “Shaq Green-Thompson.”
Thompson hit .305 this spring for Grant High. But it’s the same athleticism that had him rated the No. 1 safety prospect in the country last year that has MLB teams intrigued, not his stats. It was thought a few teams were interested in taking a flyer on him, despite his relative inexperience playing the game, and seeing what develops. Interestingly, the word seemed to be that it was Toronto that was most interested in drafting Thompson. That the Red Sox ended up taking him seems to show that a few scouts saw something in Thompson.
Here’s what he told me last February about how he envisioned fitting in baseball with his plans to play for the Huskies.
NCAA rules allow an athlete to play professionally in a different sport (meaning you can be paid to play baseball and still play college football). However, as was the case with Jake Locker after he signed with the Angels in 2009, Thompson — if he signed — would become officially a walk-on, which would open up another scholarship.
UPDATE, 11:30 A.M. — Here’s an update from the Sacramento Bee quoting Thompson saying he plans to sign with the Red Sox and play baseball this summer but that this won’t interfere in any way with his UW football career.
“I’m definitely playing football at Washington, but I’ll report to baseball first,” Thompson is quoted as telling the Bee. “I think this is great. I’m surprised. I thought I might get drafted, but much later.”
The Bee story further says that Thompson decided to play baseball again this year for the first time since a brief stint during his sophomore season and that:
Thompson’s mere presence drew large crowds for home and away games and his size and untapped skills intrigued scouts. At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Thompson looked like a linebacker roaming the outfield. His remarkable speed allowed him to cover a lot of ground, and his cannon arm had one scout at a game earlier this season saying, “He’s draftable for his defense and speed alone.”
At the plate, Thompson batted .305. He had 18 hits and struck out 17 times. Despite the strikeouts, his composure never wavered.
“So many high school kids or players at any age, they strike out and they throw their bat or their batting glove, or have a sour face, but not Shaq,” Grant coach Danny Chavez said. “He would jog off the field like a real leader, with no emotion. Not that he didn’t care. He hates to fail, but he didn’t crack. He didn’t let anyone see that he was bothered.”
So how good can Thompson be in baseball?
“I just know the kid has a phenomenal arm and all the speed in the world, and he can track any ball down,” Chavez said. “He has that great athletic ability and great mental approach, and he’s such a quality young man, so why not take a chance on putting him in your organization? This game is all about potential and he’s got amazing potential.”
Thompson said he’s eager for the challenge. He doesn’t know how far he’ll go in baseball, and he reminds that football remains a deep-rooted passion. But he has one chance to experience both, so he’s seizing it.
“I’m just glad I played baseball again because I realized how fun it is, how much I missed it,” Thompson said. “I know it’s a game of failure and it is a hard game to adjust to. I’m looking forward to meeting new people in baseball, then it’ll be football.”