If Keegan Thompson was even remotely wavering on Thursday’s decision to honor his commitment to Auburn, all 30 major-league teams made it pretty easy for him to stick with his gut.
Knowing there was practically a zero-percent chance of signing Thompson, no big league ballclubs took a chance on selecting the pitching prospect by the conclusion of this year’s amateur baseball draft.
But don’t feel bad for Thompson. Saturday night’s sequence of events didn’t have him down in the dumps one bit.
“I can understand that they didn’t draft me,” he said. “It would’ve been nice, but I knew I wasn’t going to sign.”
Thompson’s best chance of being drafted came in the second round on Thursday night. An area scout with the St. Louis Cardinals informedThompson via text message St. Louis was considering taking the recent Cullman High graduate with the 57th overall pick, but the offer wouldn’t have been enough for him to forego college, so the Cardinals ended up exploring other options.
When the first two rounds came to a close and Thompson’s name was still on the board, he declared he was bound for Auburn regardless of if he was drafted over the next two days. The announcement came packaged with a mile-wide smile that served as proof Thompson was happy to move on to the next stage in his baseball career.
“I think that I’ll get better in college facing the type of people I’ll be playing and just mature more as a player,” he said. “I think the coaches down there — whoever they are — will develop me more and I’ll be ready for the draft in three more years.”
The “whoever they are” comment of course refers to Auburn’s current coaching vacancy following the recent firing of John Pawlowski. Athletic director Jay Jacobs and his staff are the ones responsible for finding a replacement, but Thompson made it clear what he wants out of his future coach.
“I’m just wanting the best candidate that they’re looking for,” he said. “Everyone wants to have a good coach and go to regionals and super regionals and the College World Series. Hopefully they can find the best person equipped for the job.”
Thompson is hoping the Tigers’ new hire will retain pitching coach Scott Foxhall, who was heavily involved in his recruitment. Thompson’s parents, Phyllis and Jerry, have shared the same sentiment because of the bond they’ve forged with the Foxhall family over the years.
Though he hadn’t spoken with his parents about going undrafted by early Saturday evening, Thompson said he didn’t feel either one would “be too upset about it.” Both were clearly in favor of Thompson taking his talents to Auburn but still let their son know they’d support whatever decision he made.
The latest draftee to hail from Wallace State was catcher Andrew Dennis, who was picked in the 37th round and 1,109th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates. His intentions of signing were unknown at presstime.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at email@example.com.