Chicago Cubs: Keegan Thompson’s experience built through resiliency
By Logan Whaley
Keegan Thompson understands the task ahead for his plans with the Chicago Cubs. He understands the hill this team has faced and continues to face following the dark days of this season’s trade deadline. Thompson understands his responsibility and the role he must play in helping to make this new generation of talent the next great foundation of baseball on the North Side.
It is a tall task and one that needs embracing. Thompson has been in the system since 2017, when the right-hander was selected in the third round by the Cubs. Thompson excelled at the University of Auburn. He compiled a career 2.46 ERA over nearly 254 innings in his three years, making 38 starts and appearing in 41 games.
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While his numbers were not overwhelming, the Cubs found great value in Thompson. In a sense, because of the amount of talent in the class, it is not surprising Thompson fell to the end of the third round. It also turned into a lucky spot for the Cubs in being able to draft the now 26-year-old. Now, Thompson has a chance to be something great for this team and rotation.
Chicago Cubs: Thompson’s climb to the top of the mountain
Thompson entered the season barely scraping the top 30 prospect list, per Baseball America‘s team rankings, as he fell in at number 28. However, as the final month of the regular season approaches, Thompson finds himself in the top 15 as he has worked at an exceptional rate to make positive strides.
The kid from Cullman, Alabama, has experienced his fair share of frustrations this year as he has spent a portion of the season at the major league level — 44 2/3 innings, to be exact. He’s green, and he is finding a way to grind out a level of production at a surprising rate. His ERA currently sits at an impressive 2.42 ERA.
As for Thompson’s year to this point, the talent and skill level are apparent. Here is the righty making Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy grab some pine for his first career major league strikeout, courtesy of video footage from MLB Pipeline:
And here a month later, courtesy of Cubs correspondent Matt Clapp, is Thompson making San Diego Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatís look foolish in an at-bat:
While he has had frustrations shining through at points, mainly with location and the lack of called strikes, Thompson has performed admirably for his first time around the league and should easily be a prime candidate for the 2022 Cubs rotation.
Zach Davies is slated to come off the books next year, giving Thompson his clear-cut path as though Davies had any weight in the decision-making. In addition, it will provide the Cubs with the flexibility to unleash Thompson over an entire season.
But, for now, the kid from Alabama will continue to get his shot, and Cubs fans should continue to embrace the 26-year-old and the future rotation plans for 2022 and beyond.