Mason Thompson was one of those kids. The kids you see leaning over the railing after games at Disch-Falk Field. The kids angling for autographs and a connection to their heroes.
Thompson, 15, still has an old baseball glove that was signed by several Longhorns when he was six or seven years old, the names now faded.
But it turns out that Thompson is different than most of those kids at the railing. Unless something changes for him during the next three years, Thompson will be the guy signing gloves and baseballs.
Last week, Thompson — approaching the end of only his freshman year at Round Rock High School — gave a commitment to pitch for the Longhorns. In 2016-17.
Thompson, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, is the youngest player to commit to the Longhorns, at least during Augie Garrido’s 17 years as coach.
Thompson still has three years of high school left. He can’t actually sign a letter of intent until he’s a senior.
But still …
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to play for them,” Thompson said. “It’s been my dream school my whole life.”
Garrido has another player who committed very early who is scheduled to arrive next season — unless he signs a professional contract. Andy McGuire, an infielder from Oakton, Va., committed to Texas during his sophomore year.
Thompson pledged even earlier, a source of pride for him. He said he wanted to commit before school lets out next week and he becomes a sophomore.
A varsity reliever as a freshman, Thompson struck out 25 and walked 14 in 19 2/3 innings. He had a 2.85 ERA.
NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from speaking publicly about unsigned recruits, but Longhorns pitching coach Skip Johnson was likely impressed by the 180-pound Thompson’s velocity and his potential.
“He can throw three pitches for strikes,” Round Rock coach John Carter said. “We don’t have a radar gun, but I was told by a scout that he throws 86 to 88 (miles per hour).”
At least one other major league scout said Thompson hit 90.
“I’ve heard that from a few people,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s most impressive performance probably came during a victory against Klein High School in the second round of the state playoffs. He entered the game in the third inning, around midnight, after a 3 ½-hour rain delay. Thompson pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed one run, a homer.
His father, Glenn, said there were mitigating circumstances with the home run. Thompson jammed the index finger on his right hand while hitting the ground after his follow-through. The finger was swollen, and he temporarily lost feeling.
In a way, that delivery is a good sign that Thompson finishes his pitches.
Thompson receive a scholarship offer during a recent visit to campus.
“I was very surprised,” he said. “And really excited.”
Garrido did not avoid an obvious topic during the visit. The coach is 74 years old. Will he still be around to coach Thompson?
“He said no matter what, they’d have the best of the best there,” Thompson said. “Someone who could do the job.”