Thompson Passes On Hoops For White Sox

CHICAGO—While his family roots are deep in basketball, Trayce Thompson's passion is on the diamond.

And despite the White Sox's penchant for leaning heavily on college and junior college players in the draft, they always believed they could let Thompson develop at a steady rate as a second-round pick out of high school in Southern California in 2009 instead of playing for UCLA.

So far, the Sox's investment in Thompson looks promising, based on his 11 home runs and 37 RBIs in 57 games at low Class A Kannapolis as a 20-year-old.

"Baseball always was my first sport, but everyone viewed me as a basketball player, so I never got a lot of time on the baseball field," said Thompson, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound center fielder. "So by going into my senior year I was just worried about going to college and getting recruited by colleges. I knew I could play with all these kids getting all this hype about getting drafted in the first round.

"But no one really saw it in me. Playing throughout my senior year I got a lot more experience. I got to play with many good players and about halfway through my senior year, everything started to click a little more and I knew college wasn't going to be the route. I always wanted to go pro out of high school, and I knew that actually could happen."

Ken Griffey Jr. was Thompson's hero "since I could hold a bat." That's quite a statement, considering that Thompson's father Mychal was the first overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft who went on to play 14 years and serves as a color commentator on Los Angeles Lakers radio broadcasts. Older brothers Mychel (Pepperdine) and Klay (Washington State) play college basketball, and Klay is viewed as a potential first round NBA pick. Julie Thompson, Trayce's mother, played volleyball at the San Francisco.

"UCLA would have been a great option, and I wish the best for them," Thompson said. "But I made the right decision and don't regret it all and the White Sox have been very good to me. I'm as happy as I can be."


• Three of the White Sox's first 13 selections in the draft—righthander Erik Johnson, shortstop Marcus Semien and catcher Chadd Krist—played at California. "We went from a program that was going to shut down to taking three guys," scouting director Doug Laumann quipped.

• Righthander Jeff Marquez, who was part of the Nick Swisher trade after the 2008 season, returned to the Yankees on a waiver claim.