Florida Regional Preview
If Miami Westminster Christian High School senior David Thompson inconceivably goes through the rest of his promising athletic career without ever achieving another claim-to-fame, he’ll always have at least one leg-up on Prince Fielder.
Nearly a year ago, on April 15, 2011, Thompson stepped in to face Miami LaSalle High School – and now Virginia Tech – right-hander Alex Perez and smacked a changeup 335 feet for his 14th home run of his junior season at Westminster.
It was also the 43rd home run of Thompson’s high school career, one more than the previous Florida career record of 42 bombs held by new Detroit Tigers superstar slugger and multi-, multi-time millionaire Fielder, a Florida prep standout at both Florida Air Academy and Eau Gallie from 1999-2002.
Thompson had no idea he had passed Fielder on the Florida career home run list at the time he did it.
“I wasn’t aware of it at all, actually,” Thompson said in a recent telephone conversation with Perfect Game. “I had no idea what the record was and I didn’t even find out that I had broke it the day that I hit that 43rd (home run). I found out about a week later when somebody told me. It was pretty funny.”
Thompson ended up hitting 18 home runs last season, one in which Westminster finished 24-9 after losing to North Florida Christian in the semifinal round of the Florida Class 2A state playoffs. That home run output gave Thompson, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound infielder, a career total of 47 bombs when the Warriors’ started the 2012 season.
It also makes Thompson the career home leader in Perfect Game Florida Region history. The PG Preseason High School Florida Region Top-25 Rankings are being released today.
Thompson hit 10 home runs his freshman season (2009) then blasted a state-record 19 homers as a sophomore in 2010. The 19 home runs not only were a single-season state-best, but also broke the previous school record of 15 set by former second round MLB draft pick Ron Caridad in 1989.
Westminster Christian won Class 2A state championships in each of Thompson’s first two seasons. He hit .427 with 30 RBI during a freshman season cut 10 games short by a fractured hip. He followed that by hitting .486 with 10 doubles and 54 RBI to go with his 19 home runs in 2010.
Last season, Thompson hit .553 with the 18 home runs and 50 RBI.
Comparisons made to many of Florida’s all-time greatest high school baseball players were inevitable, especially considering the school Thompson attends. Westminster Christian’s 10 state championships rank second in state history only to Key West’s 11, and its alumni list possibly ranks second to none.
And who’s No. 1 on that list on alums? That would be a gentleman who now calls Yankee Stadium his home office and goes by the moniker A-Rod.
Alex Rodriguez was named USA Today’s 1993 National Baseball Player of the Year after graduating from Westminster Christian that spring. Many of the school records Thompson has broken – in both baseball and football – were previously held by Rodriguez. The record for career home runs wasn’t one of them – A-Rod hit 17 home runs during his entire Westminster career.
After he graduates this spring, Thompson’s name will be placed in the record books alongside an almost unmatched list of former Warriors who have gone on to play professional or high-level college baseball.
That list begins with five current or former major-leaguers, including third baseman Rodriguez. Catcher J.P. Arencibia, second baseman Mickey Lopez, first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and pitcher Dan Perkins also played in the big leagues. Rodriguez and Arencibia are joined by former Warriors Robert Auth and Bill Henderson as first round draft picks.
According to several online sources, at least 30 Westminster Christian alumni went on to play professional baseball. Rodriguez, Mientkiewicz, Lopez and Perkins were all on the 1992 Warriors team that was awarded the USA Today National Championship. Three other players on that roster played professionally at some level and a total of 12 were offered Division I scholarships.
Pitchers J.D. Arteaga and Steve Butler are in that group, and many knowledgeable observers consider them the two best players on that 1992 team.
The names can make your head swirl.
“I’m definitely a little awestruck,” Thompson said. “Even being put in the same sentence with some of those guys, I take that as a huge compliment. I don’t compare myself to them at all because I’m still in high school and some of those guys are the best of the best in the major leagues. But I definitely take it as a huge blessing.”
Thompson is also a record-setting football quarterback, and it’s interesting to note that all but one of the school passing records he now owns previously belonged to Rodriguez.
This past season, Thompson passed for 2,055 yards and 20 touchdowns (he also rushed for 382 yards and 11 more TDs) and completed his high school career with 5,644 yards and 50 touchdowns through the air. Rodriguez passed for the previous school-record career high 3,074 yards and 35 TDs.
Thompson has signed a national letter-of-intent with the University of Miami, and decided to do so in early February on national football signing day. He plans to play both baseball and football in college.
“Right now baseball is my favorite sport, but during football season, football is my favorite sport,” Thompson said. “I committed (to Miami) for both sports.”
Thompson is also a committed young man of faith. His father, Ed Thompson, is the president of Logoi Ministries and Thompson has served on mission trips in Central and South America.
“That aspect of my life is greater than any sport that I could ever play,” he said. “My faith will always come first in my life, with my family second and then sports. Sometimes it can be difficult because I can get so caught up in sports and sometimes I put my faith secondary, which is something I try to never to do, but it definitely can happen. I try my best to let that not happen.”
Thompson played in seven Perfect Game WWBA and two PG BCS Finals tournaments from 2008-10 – he was with South Florida Elite Squad Black at the 2010 PG WWBA Underclass World Championship in Fort Myers, Fla., and with the Florida Legends/White Sox Scout Team at the 2010 PG WWBA World Championships in Jupiter, Fla. He is ranked the 89th top national prospect in his class and No. 20 in the Florida Region.
Fellow Miami commits Adrian Marin (Gulliver Prep), Ricky Eusebio (Gulliver), Albert Almora (Mater Dei), and Chris Diaz (Gulliver) played with Thompson on that FL/WSST World Championship team.
Thompson and his Westminster Christian teammates were not happy with having their 2011 season end in the state semifinals, especially after winning state championships the previous two seasons.
“Last year was a huge disappointment, not just a little disappointment,” Thompson said. “Honestly, we expect to win (a state championship) every year and that’s always the goal for us. We failed last year; we came up short.”
The Warriors are not ranked in PG’s Preseason Florida Region Top-25, but that shouldn’t be perceived as a slam – the Florida Region includes nine teams ranked in the PG Preseason National High School Top-50 rankings. Thompson isn’t backing down – “We’ve got a long ways to go but I think we can have a real good year,” he said – but also acknowledges that, because of its history and tradition, Westminster plays every game with a target on its back.
“There’s definitely a little bit of pressure because every school around here wants to beat us,” he said. “Everyone is throwing their best pitchers at us and stuff like that, so there’s definitely some pressure. People are going to hate on us and they’ll say we only win stuff because we’re a 2A/3A school, but for us that’s just more motivation.”
Barring injury or something else unforeseen, Thompson is likely to graduate as Florida high school’s all-time leading home run hitter with about 20 more bombs than the second-place Fielder.
At that point he will start looking toward Coral Gables and the U. of Miami – “I’ve always loved the ‘Canes and I’ve always wanted to be a ‘Cane,” he said – but will more than likely also have to consider the results of June’s MLB Draft. Perfect Game ranks Thompson as the draft’s No. 155 overall prospect.
“I’ve thought about it a little bit, but the whole idea of being drafted is still just crazy to me,” he said. “My dream has always been to play in the major leagues and now to have a chance to get drafted somewhere is amazing to me. The only thing set in stone is going to UM and that’s what I plan to do. I try not think about the draft at all and just focus day-by-day on getting better and helping our high school team get back to another state championship.
“I just thank the Lord for everything that I’ve been able to accomplish because it’s all through Him,” he continued. “I just hope my records (survive) for a little bit longer – records are meant to be broken but hopefully they’ll get a few more years up there.”