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R.J. Thompson: An Appreciation

The Bearcats outfielder saved his best for last.

Ben Solomon/GoBearcats.com

The Career Numbers

  • .284/.363/.372 slash line
  • 167 hits
  • 38 extra base hits
  • 67 RBI
  • 85 runs
  • 18 stolen bases
  • .991 fielding percentage

R.J. Thompson was Cincinnati’s best player in 2017, which was nice to see from a local kid from Mason, Ohio. A two-year letter winner at Mason High, Thompson was an all-state player in high school so obviously he was supposed to be a critical piece of the Bearcats baseball program.

Unfortunately, Thompson had an up-and-down career with UC. A cup of coffee in his freshman year turned into a solid sophomore campaign, which turned into a disappointing junior season, all culminating in his 2017 masterpiece.

He played in 10 games in 2014, his first year with the Bearcats, and slashed .185/.313/.222 in 27 at-bats. Then, given 41 starts, he rewarded Ty Neal with a slash line of .274/.341/.341 in 2015, tallying very few extra-base hits (eight) but still getting on base at a strong clip. While he wasn’t great at stealing bases (4-of-11), he also provided very good defense, avoiding an error all season while setting a career-high with five assists.

After such a wonderful optimistic sophomore year, Thompson was poised for a breakout in 2015. It didn’t come, however, as his numbers crumbled. He batted .233/.319/.283 with only seven extra-base hits and 12 RBI. He remained a strong defensive outfielder, with four assists and a single error in 113 chances, and did improve his base stealing, with 10 in 17 attempts.

The breakout that was expect in 2015 came and then some in 2017. Thompson led the Bearcats in all the slash line categories (.350/.425/.493) and set career-highs with 23 extra-base hits, 40 runs scored and 78 hits. Interestingly enough, he committed two of his three career errors this past season, but was still an overall sound defensive outfielder.

The Best of the Best

April 4, 2014 at Temple

As a freshman, Thompson hit his first and only extra-base hit of the season, launching a double as part of a 2-for-4 showing against Temple.

March 19, 2015 at Nevada

Thompson’s first career home run came in this contest, as he went 3-for-5 and was a double short of the cycle.

April 8, 2015 at Indiana

His second three-hit game of the season featured a double and a run scored.

May 9, 2015 at UConn

Thompson drove in three runs, but did not score himself during a 3-for-5 effort that included a double.

March 9, 2016 at Kentucky

Thompson was a perfect 4-for-4 against the Wildcats, including a pair of two-baggers.

March 11, 2016 vs. Canisius

After going 0-of-4 against Canisius in the first part of a double-header, Thompson erupted for a 2-for-4 game with a home run and three runs scored.

April 23, 2016 vs. Memphis

Three hits and as many runs in five at-bats certainly qualifies as a nice day at the ballpark.

Feb. 25, 2017 at College of Charleston

Although he would end up being the leadoff hitter toward the end of the year, Thompson went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI out of the five hole.

March 3, 2017 at Arkansas State

Batting cleanup, Thompson blasted his first home run of the season and drove in three runs during a 2-for-4 performance.

April 19, 2017 vs. Wright State

From the leadoff spot, Thompson recorded two hits, including a home run, in four plate appearances.

May 2, 2017 at Wright State

Thompson had a lot of success against the Raiders, as he put together a 4-for-5 game with a home run, two RBI and three runs in an 11-8 win.

May 10, 2017 vs. Western Carolina

Thompson stepped to the plate five times and got on base each time, accumulating three hits (including a home run and a double) and two walks.

Mat 14, 2017 vs. UCF

UC beat UCF 8-5 and Thompson went 3-for-4 with three RBI.

May 24, 2017 vs. Memphis

In UC’s heartbreaking slugfest loss to Memphis in the American Athletic Conference Tournament, Thompson did just about everything he could, going 3-for-5 with three runs scored.

A Final Goodbye

It will be odd watching another player in center field next season, especially after the sparkling campaign that Thompson put together in 2017. Its unfortunate that he didn’t play at his senior-year level for all four years, but he still had a career that falls in the category of successful.