The Florida Gators have a few top prospects for the upcoming 2022 MLB Draft on July 17, which helped them reach the SEC Championship where they lost to the Tennessee Volunteers. One of those prospects is Sterlin Thompson, who had a career sophomore season while splitting time between right field and second base. Thompson was ranked as a Top 200 prospect coming out of North Marion High School but wasn’t selected in the shortened five-round 2020 MLB Draft.
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Sterlin Thompson, OF/2B, Florida
Weight: 200 lbs.
2021 Stats: 55 G, .301/.396/.470, 5 HR, 27 RBI, 39 R, 21 BB, 45 K, 2 SB
2022 Stats: 66 G, .354/.443/.563, 11 HR, 51 RBI, 59 R, 37 BB, 47 K, 10 SB
Thompson was named to the 2021 Freshman All-SEC Team and SEC All-Tournament Team, and as you could see in the stats above he only improved in 2022. While he didn’t earn any accolades this, the SEC had a lot of top talent and was dominanted by Tennessee. The Florida alum saw an uptick in his power numbers while still keeping the same to-all-fields approach. Thompson went 11-for-19 (.579) with five RBI, two homers, and three runs scored in the NCAA Tournament.
Thompson is a great all-around hitter with a solid approach from the left side. He can hit the ball to all fields and had a slight change to his batting stance this season. The soon-to-be 21-year-old keeps his hands more upright with a more crouched stance. That allows him to get to both pitches on the outside of the plate and keep his hands in on inside pitches. His swing stays consistent through the zone which leads to line drives all over the field. Thompson is much more a pure contact hitter than power, but evidenced in his 2022 season, more power will come. All he needs to do is stick to the same approach, as his OPS with Florida increased from .880 to .984 this season, and his ISO from .172 to .210 in more at-bats.
Thompson isn’t too fast but he can steal the occassional base along with being a smart base runner. He is certainly a servicable defender and is a likely candidate to play a corner outfield spot in the pros. There are no glaring holes in his defense and he could also play either of the two corner infield spots.
There aren’t really any glaring weaknesses in Thompson’s game, the only real question has been how much power output he will wind up having. But if this past year is any indication, it will only continue to increase. At least 15 homers a season could be expected, which would be solid for the type of hitter he is. Other than that, he can get bit by sliders and other offspeed pitchers at times. It doesn’t happen often enough for it to be a big concern. His changed stance has helped him improve his approach against left-handers.
Pro Comparison: Cody Bellinger
Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan actually compared Thompson to Bellinger when he first joined the Gators. He has a similar approach and hit tool to Bellinger as well as an almost identical build. They also both play the outfield and infield. Thompson will be selected earlier than Bellinger was, in the fourth round of the 2017 Draft.
Draft Projection: Cincinnati Reds, Round 1, Pick 32 (Compensation Pick)
The Reds love their share of advanced pure hitters and drafted prep outfielder Jay Allen with the 30th pick last year. Then back in 2020, they selected Austin Hendrick in the first round who also has plus tools at the dish. The trio of Allen, Hendrick, and Thompson would be a great future for the Cincinnati outfield.
Follow Alex Kielar on Twitter @AlexPTST
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images