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MLB draft: Detroit Tigers select Heath All-American Jake Thompson with first pick

DETROIT — Heath high school senior All-American pitcher and slugger Jake Thompson had signed a national letter of intent last November to play baseball at Texas Christian University beginning this Fall.

Now that may not happen.

The Detroit Tigers professional baseball team used their first pick today to select the right-handed pitcher in the second round of the 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft. He was the No. 91 overall pick.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Thompson, 18, tweeted Tuesday afternoon that it was “an absolute honor to be the first pick of the Detroit Tigers.”

The son of Keith and Lisa Thompson of Heath had verbally committed last year to play at the University of Nebraska before he changed his mind to TCU, after the Cornhuskers fired their baseball coach.

According to his MLB draft biography, his slider could end up being his best pitch. He also has a low- to mid-90s fastball. He has an 11-1 record in 2012 and is the team’s best pitcher and hitter. He plays third and first base when he isn’t pitching.

He is expected to pitch this Thursday in the State 4-A Baseball Final Four Semi-Final game at Dell Field in Round Rock, hoping to help his Hawks teammates to win their first State Baseball Championship.

His coach, Greg Harvey, told the Detroit Free Press that he has several good pitches.

“His fastball’s gotten up to 94 m.p.h.,” Harvey said. “He’s pretty consistent at 90 to 92. That’s where he’s going to sit most of the time. His slider is definitely his out pitch. The change-up continues to get better every day, but obviously, that’s still a work in progress.”

“Jake really wants to pursue the dream of playing professional baseball, so I believe he’s signable,” Harvey said. “I think it’s a very good possibility that he will sign.

“I really expected somewhere between second and fourth round. We’re very happy he went when he did.”

According to Jim Callis of Baseball America, he’s a “big, strong, physical (pitcher) who touches 94 (m.p.h.) and has developed his slider.”

“He’s more of what you’d expect when you talk about a Texas high school player,” mlb.com’s Jonathan Mayo said. “He might have more in the tank when you talk about velocity.”

In the fourth round, the Tigers drafted Vanderbilt University right-hander Drew VerHagen, who graduated from Heath in 2009. The  6-foot-6, 225-pound junior is the son of Margie VerHagen of Royse City, who directs the Rockwall County Committee On Aging and Meals On Wheels.

By J.J. Smith, Publisher

 

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