Shaq Thompson has all the tools to be an NFL football player. He's one of the top incoming freshmen prospects in the nation who will likely suit up in the defensive backfield at Washington come this fall. His choice of Washington also became significant for another reason last week, when Thompson was surprisingly selected in the MLB draft by the Boston Red Sox.
That Thompson, rated as the top football prospect in the state of California's Class of 2012, was picked in the MLB draft wasn't necessarily a shock; after all, the teen is one of the better athletes of his graduating class nationwide. That the Sacramento (Calif.) Grant High senior was selected in the 18th round, much earlier than expected, was a bit of a shock simply because Thompson hardly played baseball in high school.
As outlined by the Sacramento Bee, Thompson was predominantly a track athlete, not a baseball player, in the spring of his sophomore and junior seasons. When he did return for his senior season, Thompson enjoyed the sport thoroughly, but met with only moderate success; the center fielder batter .305 but had nearly as many strikeouts (17) as he did hits (18).
Yet those struggles at the plate may have made his athleticism stand out even more; despite falling short of being his team's best hitter, Thompson still had a major impact.
"I just know the kid has a phenomenal arm and all the speed in the world, and can track any ball down," Grant baseball coach Danny Chavez told the Bee. "He has that great athletic ability and great mental approach. And he's such a quality young man, so why not take a chance on putting him in your organization? This game is all about potential, and he's got amazing potential."
For the Red Sox, the dramatic potential of Thompson's future outweighed the relatively modest risk of using an 18th-round draft pick on him and signing him to a bonus which is expected to be in the region of $100,000. Boston radio station WEEI has reported that Thompson is expected to officially join the Red Sox in the coming days, though for now the teen insists that he will head to Washington as scheduled this fall after playing a couple months of Gulf Coast League baseball in Boston's minor-league system.
"I'm definitely going to Washington, but I'll report to baseball first to see how I do," Thompson told the Bee. "I think this is great. I'm surprised. I thought I might get drafted, but much later."