Nagging injuries last season kept Bubba Thompson from showing why the Rangers made him their first-round pick in the Draft. He's getting his chance now and making the most of it.
Texas' sixth-ranked prospect established a career high with four hits and scored three times while falling a triple shy of the cycle Tuesday as Class A Hickory blanked Hagerstown, 7-0, at Municipal Stadium. He drove in two runs and stole his fifth base of the season in his 15th game with the Crawdads.
The 19-year-old began the year in extended spring training and did not make his season debut with Hickory until May 9.
Gameday box score
"Everything really fell into place for me today," Thompson said. "I'm feeling 100 percent and I'm ready to roll. Hopefully, things stay like this and I'll be able to continue to take care of my body."
Thompson reached on a throwing error by shortstop Yasel Antuna in the first inning. He doubled to left field and scored on Yohel Pozo's sacrifice fly in the third before blasting his second homer of the season to left-center field in fifth. The Alabama native reached on an infield single in the seventh and came home on a base hit by Ryan Dorow. Looking to complete the cycle, Thompson collected his second RBI of the night with a single to center in the eighth. The knock brought his slash line to .279/.333/.492 with eight extra-base hits in 61 at-bats.
"I knew what was going on [with the cycle]," Thompson said. "I knew it in the dugout and in the on-deck circle, but as soon as I stepped into the box, I forgot about it. With a runner at second, I was trying to put my best swing on it and drive that run in."
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound outfielder had a trio of three-hit games with the Rangers' Rookie-level Arizona League club last summer.
Thompson was a star quarterback at McGill-Toolen High School in Mobile and had accepted a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Alabama. The Rangers made him the 26th overall pick in last year's Draft and he made the decision to forgo college and turn pro. Assigned to the AZL, he batted .257/.317/.434 with 12 extra-base hits, 12 RBIs and 23 runs scored in 30 games. However, he missed the first two weeks of July and was held back from playing on consecutive days with what the Rangers later called tendinitis in both knees.
Thompson received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his knees and was told to rest during the offseason. He was kept behind in extended spring training before his assignment to Hickory three weeks ago.
"[Staying in extended spring training] wasn't an issue for me," he explained. "I was able to work on things that I needed to and got myself ready so when they called me up I was locked and loaded.
"I just want to take things head-on and play the best ball that I can. It's really simple for me. I want to get pitches I can drive, play good defense, play hard and give it 100 percent. If I do that, everything else should fall into place."
Dorow collected three hits and Tyreque Reed chipped in an RBI double on a two-hit night. Rangers No. 9 prospect Pedro Gonzalez added a two-run double for the Crawdads in support of starter Alex Eubanks (4-4), who allowed three hits, three walks and struck out one over six scoreless innings.
Aldrem Corredor singled twice and walked in four plate appearances for the Suns.