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June 11, 2012TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle sweated out a last minute decision to don the purple and white from former MLB amateur draft first-round pick Matt Purke three years ago.
The decision was much easier this year for TCU commit and Rockwall-Heath ace Jake Thompson.
Thompson said he will forgo a colligate career with the Frogs to sign with the Detroit Tigers, who picked Thompson in the second round of the draft (91st overall).
"Due to the fact that I went in the second round and I was the Tigers' first pick, it was an easy decision," Thompson said. "It was hard to leave TCU, especially with the connections I've made with the other recruits, but it was too big of an opportunity to give up."
Thompson will join the Tigers' high-A affiliate in Lakeland, Fla. Tuesday to begin his professional career after winning the Texas 4A baseball state championship for the Heath Hawks Saturday at Round Rock's Dell Diamond.
Credit can be given to the TCU coaching staff in scouting Thompson's skill. Even the pitcher himself thought he would go in the late third to fifth rounds, but was pleasantly surprised to be Detroit's first pick.
His prediction kept him away from the live stream of the draft on-line during the second round, so Thompson was informed by the Tiger's second selection, Austin Schotts, via Twitter that he had been drafted by later in the day, which began the whirlwind of contact from friends and family.
"It's an awesome experience being drafted," Thompson said. "It's an honor especially since I was the Tigers first pick. The Tigers are a winning organization. The past four or five years they've had a great pitching staff and have done great things with young players so I'm excited to get up there."
Similar selling points drew Thompson to commit to TCU.
"It's an awesome university and a top of the line education," Thompson said. "I really like the pitching [instruction] especially with some of the things they've done with pitchers in the last couple of years. They've produced a lot of top of the line pitchers. It's close to home and it's a great program and you can't go wrong."
In the past three years, three former Frogs, Jake Arrieta, Sam Demel and Andrew Cashner, have made Major League debuts.
Thompson's pitching endurance and slider attracted the Tigers to make Thompson their No. 1 guy, Thompson said.
The grind of low-level minor league ball isn't much of a concern to Thompson, who said his role as a pitcher will give days to adjust to the new schedule. Proximity to his Heath home was a positive in TCU's favor and will be Thompson's biggest adjustment in Florida, he said.
Thompson will join former Frog and Johnny Bench Award winner Bryan Holaday in the Tigers' system. Holaday made his Major League debut Wednesday.
"I'm really excited to get out there and test my skills against some of the greatest players in the world.," Thompson said.