Acquired as part of the group of prospects that came in return in the trade for Cole Hamels, right-handed pitcher Jake Thompson shot toward the head of the pack to become the Phillies’ top pitching prospect last summer. Touting a strong arm and a some big strike out numbers, Thompson looks to be destined for a spot in the big league rotation sooner than later.
Originally a second round draft selection out of Rockwall-Heath High School (TX) by Detroit in 2012, the six-foot-four 235-pounder had a tremendous start to his pro career in the Gulf Coast League that year. In seven starts there as an 18-year-old, Thompson posted a 1-2 record with a 1.91 ERA and a .149 batting average against.
In 2013, Thompson sported a 3-3 record with a 3.13 ERA along with a 9.8 K/9 mark in 17 games for Class A West Michigan.
The following season, Thompson opened the year with Class A Advanced Lakeland, posting a 6-4 record with a 3.14 ERA in 16 starts before earning a promotion to Double-A Erie. There, the Texas native would tally a 1-0 record with a 2.45 ERA in two starts before being traded to Texas in a swap for Joakim Soria. Following the deal, he was assigned to Double-A Frisco, where he notched a 3-1 record with a 3.28 ERA. His strikeout numbers for the entire season stayed high, averaging more than a strike out per inning pitched.
He opened 2015 back with Frisco, where he continued to post good numbers, collecting a 6-6 record with a 4.72 ERA before the Phillies traded for him and a group of other young players. With his new organization, he was assigned to Double-A Reading, where he became the ace of the pitching staff, leading the team into the postseason with a 5-1 record, a 1.80 ERA and a .217 BAA in seven regular season starts. He would average 7.6 K/9 mark overall last season.
Walks are not an issue for Thompson. With solid command, he sports a 3.1 BB/9 mark over his career. He pretty much misses the strike zone when he wants to and is able to limit any damage when it occurs.
Coaches love the 22-year-old’s competitive nature, as he’s truly all business at the ballpark. He is the type of hurler that can set an example and lead a pitching staff. If and when he’s on a team that needs a “stopper”, that role has Thompson written all over it.
Thompson could have done well as a two-pitch reliever in the big leagues a year ago, but with his build, endurance and makeup, he’s best suited, long-term, as a starter. Pitchers facing the lineup more than once each time out need to have a deeper repertoire, which is where the youngster is right now, continuing to master his other offerings.
The arsenal includes a fastball that steadily clocks around 92-93 MPH but can reach higher along with a plus slider that has sweeping movement and is considered his out pitch. He also tosses a curve ball along with a change up, both of which he is looking to improve to above average or better.
Thompson is as no-doubt-about-it of a future big league starter as the Phillies have in their developmental ranks. He’s a bull on the mound with the goods to compete at the upper levels of the sport very soon. Look for him in red pinstripes by 2017 at the latest.
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