Showcase | Story | 1/18/2020

Thompson Just Keeps On Hitting

Blake Dowson        
Photo: Sterlin Thompson (Perfect Game)
It is easy enough to put in a good couple at-bats in a row during the course of a game or a tournament. You see the ball well one day, or the barrel of the bat feels really fat and the sweet spot is hard to miss.

Guys get hot.

But when does a hot stretch become a trend? When a guy hits well enough at the plate for a long enough period of time that it doesn’t really seem like a hot stretch anymore, but more like the new normal.

It’s a gradual thing. But it typically takes one singular moment for someone to realize the transformation from hot hitter to consistently great hitter.

That moment, for Sterlin Thompson, happened Saturday at the 2020 World Showcase at Terry Park in Fort Myers during batting practice.

Thompson showcased what was possibly the smoothest lefty swing at the event, spraying the ball all over during BP with exit velo to boot. To add to the intrigue, it was Thompson’s first Perfect Game showcase.

He added a 90 mph throw from his shortstop position during his infield workout, a 6.86-second 60-yard dash, and a 91-mph recorded exit velocity off his bat.

“I just wanted to get around some scouts and get some exposure, which PG always brings,” he said. “I wanted to show out and compete with all these good players…I haven’t ever had a PG grade, so it was cool to come out here and compete and earn one.”

Thompson wasn’t an unknown coming into the World Showcase. The Ocala, Florida native is committed to play for his home state Gators in college, and he’s currently ranked in the top-200 for the 2020 class. He’s always been talented.

But the results from the World Showcase and the fall Perfect Game tournaments he played in (that one big one held in Jupiter was one of them) help to show how Thompson has turned what started as a hot stretch into who he has become as a ballplayer.

“My bat has been good [in the past year],” Thompson said. “It’s just started to click for me in the past couple months, and especially last fall.”

That’s a humble comment from Thompson, considering he has been named to the All-Tournament Team at the last four Perfect Game events he has been to, dating back to the 2018 WWBA Underclass World Championship in early October of that year, in which he hit .438 in 17 plate appearances.

More recently, he hit .318 at the 2019 17u BCS National Championship last July, heated up even more to hit .421 at the 2019 WWBA Florida Qualifier in September, and topped it off with an out-of-this-world All-Tournament performance at the 2019 WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, where he hit .471 in 16 at-bats against the best prep pitching in the country for the Toronto Blue Jays Scout Team.

“It was a good experience,” Thompson said of his performance in Jupiter. “A lot of good talent there. A lot of scouts. Played with a great team…it was a great group of players. We showed out there, which was cool.”

His final season of high school ball is coming up soon enough, and then it is off to Gainesville after that season is over. That means Thompson, who has attended 12 Perfect Game events, is almost done with his travel ball career.

For what could be his last event, he was happy to get the opportunity to compete in the World Showcase, specifically.

The showcase format was cool to experience, Thompson said, but it was the competition he was surrounded by that made it such a great time.

“It’s cool to be around [the international] guys,” he said. “The world has so much to offer. You can compete with kids from so many different regions in this game. It was really cool to see where their talent level is, and I really liked being on the same field as them.”

The World Showcase is truly what it sounds like, a world event. Prospects from Canada, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the United States, and Venezuela all competed on Saturday.

Thompson and his Gold team will play one more game Sunday morning before he turns his attention to high school ball. One more game equals one more opportunity.

“Right now I’m just trying to enjoy the moment,” Thompson said after Day 1. “Enjoy the opportunity while I can. And then this will lead into the spring.”

And spring leads into the summer, when the Gators come calling.

That will be an experience unlike anything Thompson has ever had, much like his time in Jupiter last fall for the World Championship, and Fort Myers this weekend for the World Showcase, where he proved the two performances are more than just a hot stretch.

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