Zack Thompson Honored With Special Jersey Number
The text message was as short as its meaning was heavy.
Lefthander Zack Thompson, a 2019 first-round pick from Kentucky, realized that when he saw the jersey hanging in his locker at spring training. He slipped on the jersey bearing the number that carries a lot of weight in St. Louis.
The Cardinals felt the time was right to reissue No. 57, last worn by Darryl Kile, and that Thompson was the right pitcher to inherit it.
The number had been unused and unofficially retired since Kile’s death during a road trip in the 2002 season. Kile, who was 33, had a profound influence on his fellow starters and began some of the cohesive habits that carry on two decades after his death.
“The significance of what Darryl Kile means to this organization is still very real,” Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said. “To me, it’s almost full circle. I think it’s nice that it doesn’t lay in this awkward spot of not used, not retired. I actually think this is a special moment, and that it’s going to be a perpetual moment.”
Assigning the number to the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Thompson hints at what the Cardinals think of him.
The 23-year-old was the 19th pick in 2019 from Kentucky, and joins Matthew Liberatore as the two young lefties the Cardinals hope to build a rotation around.
Thompson’s pro career has been abbreviated by innings limits in 2019 and the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, but he has impressed the Cardinals off the mound in workouts or working the clubhouse for insight from veterans.
Thompson looked to regain strength and velocity during spring training, and in limited appearances struck out eight and walked five in 5.2 innings while giving up five runs.
Assigned to the team’s alternate training site, Thompson will begin the season as a starter at Double-A or Triple-A. The Cardinals see the poised lefthander as a fast mover who potentially is part of how they’ll solve open innings later in the season.
Jersey No. 57 will be waiting for him.
— Among the players the Cardinals are housing at their alternate site is Tommy Parsons, a righthander who joined the team as an nondrafted free agent. Wedged into some of the toughest spots in spring as he finished rollover innings with runners on base, Parsons impressed with his assertive, controlled use of his pitches.
— Luis Mario Pino, a 16-year-old Cuban outfielder, revealed on social media that he had chosen the Cardinals and intended to sign with them. Pino had spent time at the Cardinals’ academy in the Dominican Republic, and the club was hopeful of a deal that would add an exclamation point to their 2020-21 international class.