Exactly 1,332 players were selected before Taylor Thompson in the 2009 MLB Draft.
Needless to say, the odds were stacked against him. But on Saturday night, after six years in the minors, the right-hander got the call to the majors.
"I've been waiting for this for a long time, so it was a matter of time," Thompson said. "I pitched well down there (in Triple-A) and I was just waiting on my call, so when it came like I said I was pretty much speechless, nervous."
Outside of a 16-inning blip in Triple-A a year ago, Thompson's succeeded at every minor league stop, from Great Falls to Kannapolis to Birmingham to Charlotte. The 27-year-old earned his promotion with a 2.61 ERA and 53/24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 48 1/3 innings for Charlotte this spring and summer.
Thompson started throwing his splitter again this year, and after some early hiccups has had plenty of success with it. He allowed just five runs in his final 38 2/3 innings in Triple-A, a stretch dating back to late April. More than anything, though, Thompson said his early-season struggles — nine earned runs in 9 2/3 innings — emphasized the importance of trusting his stuff.
"I just keep things simple and I don't try to do too much," Thompson said. "I felt like I was trying to do too much at the beginning of the year, like maybe trying to over pitch, hit a spot too much. I just kind of simplified some things and they fell into place."
Thompson features a fastball-splitter-slider arsenal, but more importantly the White Sox view him as a someone who consistently throws strikes. For a bullpen that's had control issues, Thompson's addition — so long as he keeps getting the ball over the plate — is a welcome one.
"He’s the best guy pitching down there right now," manager Robin Ventura said. "He throws strikes, has been closing for them a lot down there. You are going with the hot hand."
There's a comfort level for Thompson in the White Sox clubhouse, given he played with a number of his bullpen mates — Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam, Daniel Webb and Eric Surkamp — in Charlotte or other cities on the White Sox minor league ladder. And too, Thompson sounded like someone who's taking an even-keeled approach to making his big league debut.
"The level's a little bit different, it's a little more scrutinized up here," Thompson said. "But just stay the same, don't try to change too much. It's the same game, the mound's still 60 feet, six inches away so it won't be any different, there's just going to be a lot more people watching."