Brad Thompson may not have been a top prospect during his time in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system. Nonetheless, he made minor league history on this day in 2004.
We all know that Orel Hershiser holds the major league record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings, snapping the record that had been held by Don Drysdale. However, St. Louis Cardinals minor leaguer Brad Thompson came close to matching his feat, as his streak of 57 consecutive scoreless innings ended on this day in 2004.
Thompson, who was not considered one of the top prospects in the game at the time of his performance, was ready to start the season. Pitching for the Cardinals AA affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies, Thompson had one of the more impressive starts to any season in 2004. He continued to rack up scoreless inning after scoreless inning, breaking the record held by Kaiser Wilhelm. Wilhelm set his mark of 49 consecutive scoreless innings, and threw a perfect game, in 1906.
That streak ended on this day, as Thompson notched 57 straight scoreless frames, falling two innings short of Hershiser’s record. Unfortunately, that streak took a toll on Thompson, as he lost strength in his right shoulder. Eventually, he was shut down for two months.
Even with those injury woes, he still put together a solid year. In 72.1 innings at AA, Thompson had a 2.36 ERA and a 0.926 WHiP, striking out 57 batters with just 11 walks. Promoted to AAA at the end of the season, he did not have nearly that same level of success, posting a 5.52 ERA and a 1.568 WHiP.
Thompson made his major league debut the following season, and spent parts of six seasons in the majors. Although he was mainly a starter in the minors, during his time with the Cardinals and Royals, Thompson spent most of his career in the bullpen. Overall, he had a 4.46 ERA and a 1.391 WHiP. While his command was solid, with only 121 walks in 405.1 innings, Thompson managed just 190 strikeouts, as he was unable to miss many bats. He was out of the majors at 28 years old, and after two years in the Atlantic League, hung up his cleats.