Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

June 6, 2012

Next stop Chicago?

Former T-Town star drafted by White Sox in 13th round

Scott Richey
Effingham Daily News

TEUTOPOLIS — Don’t worry if this all sounds a little familiar. But a year after Stewardson-Strasburg grad and Western Kentucky pitcher Phil Wetherell had a round of golf interrupted by his selection in the 2011 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees, former Teutopolis standout Derek Thompson had to put up with some frustrated playing partners Tuesday when the Chicago White Sox called with some rather important news.

    The White Sox were one of the teams that showed the most interest in Thompson during his standout senior season. But they passed on the former Wooden Shoes’ ace — allowing him to fall to the Minnesota Twins in the 29th round and 898th overall selection a year ago.

    Chicago got back on board the D-Train on Tuesday during the second day of the 2012 draft, selecting Thompson in the 13th round with the 411th overall pick.

    Thompson was playing at Fore-Way Golf Course with former high school basketball teammates Blake Thoele and Trey Braun when he got a call from the White Sox. They called about the fifth hole, letting Thompson know about his selection.

    “They were kind of getting mad at me a little bit because I was talking on the phone with the White Sox guy instead of playing. I was holding them up a little bit,” Thompson said about his otherwise excited playing partners.

    “It was a lot better, less stressful and everything,” he added about getting drafted in the 13th round instead of waiting through 7 1/2 hours of names not his own being called last year.

    Thompson said the White Sox got back in touch about three weeks ago, and he’d talked with them quite a bit in the days leading up to the draft. He’ll talk with them again Thursday about the decision he has to make.

    Thompson could sign with the White Sox after improving his draft position by 16 rounds and 487 picks. Or, he could return to John A. Logan College for his sophomore season and remain draft eligible in 2013.

    “I’ve still got to talk a little bit with my family,” Thompson said. “We still have to go over it. I’m leaning towards (signing) a lot.”

    Thompson followed his outstanding final prep season — 10-0 with a 0.12 ERA, 107 strikeouts and six walks in 60 1/3 innings — with an equally impressive freshman year for the Volunteers.

    The 6-foot-2 lefty led Logan with an 8-2 record and 1.92 ERA in 84 1/3 innings. Thompson struck out 103 batters and walked 29 in 14 appearances for the Vols. Batters hit .197 off Thompson, as he gave up 58 hits on the season with just 12 going for extra bases.

    Thompson said his fastball topped out at 92 mph this spring but wasn’t consistently in the 90s like he would have liked it to be. His changeup and curveball, however, remained effective.

    “I felt like this year my velocity wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but my movement, though, was better than it was last year,” Thompson said. “My coach, (Logan’s) Jerry Halstead, also helped me a lot on my changeup and my curveball. That was really helpful this year to get out hitters.”

    Thompson’s goals for his fastball are to throw it consistently in the 90s with a top end speed at 96 or 97 mph. And getting stronger to achieve that goal will be his plan whether he chooses the White Sox or another year at Logan.

    His impressive freshman campaign for the Vols helped Logan finish 41-22 this spring and come within one game of an NJCAA Division I National Championship appearance. The Vols lost to Iowa Western Community College in the Northern District Tournament. Iowa Western won the national championship with a 6-5 victory against San Jacinto College-North (Texas) on Saturday — the Reivers’ second title in three years.

    “I thought this year’s season was really good,” Thompson said. “Everyone on the team, we all got along. We all worked hard, but we just came up short in the end.”