Sacramento (Calif.) Grant High football star Shaq Thompson was one of the nation's top prospects throughout his junior and senior seasons. The nation's No. 4 overall recruit in the Class of 2012, Thompson led the Pacers deep into the state playoffs and eventually signed with Washington as arguably the most ballyhooed recruit in a top notch Huskies incoming class. Months later, he went on to star for the Grant baseball team, even though he had hardly touched a bat or glove for two seasons.
It was an inspiring return to the superstar athlete's second sport, one which showcased his athleticism so well that it helped earn him a spot in the draft class of the Boston Red Sox, who selected the recent Grant graduate in the 18th round of the 2012 entry draft. A little more than a week later, Thompson signed with the Red Sox, officially beginning his professional career in baseball long before he'll get a chance to do so on the gridiron (if his Washington career goes to plan).
Well, now Thompson will be hoping that his pro football career gets off to a much better start than his intro to life on the diamond. Competing for a short-season Gulf Coast League squad in Florida, Thompson has opened up with one of the worst stretches of first weeks in professional baseball history. As noted by the Sacramento Bee, through his first 26 official at-bats in Florida, the former Grant star had 0 hits and a whopping 25 strikeouts.
In fact, the best result Thompson had mustered during his first nine games was a meek groundout to first base, as elementary an out as possible. Prep Rally couldn't find adequate data of the worst minor-league starts in baseball history, but suffice it to say that Thompson's 25 strikeouts would make the list.
The Bee reported that Thompson has struck out more than three times in seven of his first nine games, proof that he's happy to keep swinging away, if nothing else.
Of course, all of this is rough news for the Red Sox, who wouldn't have been counting on Thompson making an impact any time in the near future, but were optimistic about his potential based on his stunning athletic gifts. Yet, as rough as it may be for Boston fans to watch, Washington football officials might quietly be thrilled that a superstar they anticipated having focused only on their program may be more likely to do just that in the coming years. After all, no one wants to bat .000 and whiff 96 percent of the time they come to the plate.
Still, Thompson is a determined, committed athlete with the kind of athleticism that comes along only once in a rare while. He's also supremely confident in his own ability. If anyone could turn an 0-for-26 start into a future MLB career, it might be him. If nothing else, landing in Boston or another MLB city down the road would make Thompson's rise an even better story than his surprising draft selection.
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