Continuing our coverage of the 2017 MLB draft, we turn our attention this afternoon to Leslie “Bubba” Thompson, a high school outfielder from Mobile, Alabama.
Bubba Thompson is an Alabama high school sports legend, particularly in football where he is an excellent quarterback. He was recruited by several schools for the gridiron but decided to go with baseball full-time, certainly a wise decision for his long-term health. After an original verbal commitment to Auburn and a dual-sport flirtation with other schools, he’s now set to attend the University of Alabama for baseball only.
Despite his football background he’s well-known to baseball scouts, having shown off his speed, strength, and athleticism on the showcase circuit including the Area Code Games and Perfect Game showcases.
Listed at 6-2, 180, Thompson is a right-handed hitter and thrower born June 9th, 1998.
First class athletic tools are the draw here: he’s a 65-70 runner with a 60-arm. His raw power was rated 40 or 45 heading into the spring but he’s shown more pop in recent months as he’s matured physically, earning some 50 grades now. His range, arm strength, and instincts profile well in center field, and if his power continues growing he could fit in right as well.
On the spring he’s hitting .404 with nine homers with 18 strikeouts and 15 walks, while checking in at 19-for-19 in the stolen base department. High school stats are difficult to interpret, of course, given differences in competition. His makeup and work ethic are considered strong.
Thompson turns 19 just before draft day, making him a bit older than typical for a first-round high school pick. That’s not his fault, but it is a factor to consider.
There was concerns pre-season about his hitting. While questions about his power potential are easing in his favor, he’ll still have to show he can adapt to higher-level pitching for contact and pitch recognition. There are fewer worries about the bat now, but the issue won’t be completely laid to rest until he gets into pro ball.
Thompson was projected as a supplemental round or early second round pick six months ago but his stock is improved this spring, with some sources viewing him as a mid-to-late first-rounder if the draft were held today. His tools certainly support that status and there is greater confidence now about his skills.
Baseball America video