Bees' Thompson Regains His Footing

Tony Thompson's 2010 season was wrecked by a knee injury that contributed to his slide in the MLB draft and his lackluster numbers with Low-A Vancouver. Healthy in 2011, Thompson is determined to show what he can do when healthy.

Playing with a clean bill of health for the first time in more than a year, Oakland A's third base prospect Tony Thompson has become one of the top hitters in first-place Burlington Bees' lineup.

While that may come as a surprise to the many teams that passed up on the Kansas University player in the 2010 amateur draft, it isn't for the 6'4'' Thompson, who has always proven to be a prolific hitter while healthy.

A broken right knee prior to the start of his junior season cost Thompson two months and valuable time to prove himself ahead of the June 2010 amateur draft. Had Thompson been in the draft as a college sophomore, when he won the Big 12's Triple Crown, he likely would have been drafted even higher than the sixth round.

The former Jayhawk has put all of that in the rear-view mirror and is focused on performing at a high level in his first full year of professional ball. Thompson has been a mainstay in the heart of the Bees' order and is hitting .291 with three homers and 21 RBIs through Monday.

After a sluggish performance last summer in Vancouver, Thompson has made the adjustments in a league that favors pitching early in the season.

"I knew it would be difficult coming back from the injury and that I might struggle during the college season and maybe into the first year," said Thompson. "But now I feel like I'm perfectly healthy and everything is working well.

"This year hopefully will be a breakout year and I can continue hitting the ball well. Hopefully I'll show that I was a good pick up, can play third base and swing the bat a little bit."

Thompson and the Bees have done all of the above thus far, surging to 23 wins in their initial 30 games with a balance of timely hitting, consistent pitching and stellar defense.

"I think the beginning of the year started out real well for me and the team," Thompson said.

"It seemed like we couldn't get out. We knew it wasn't going to always go like that. But I've been hitting the ball hard the last few games and hopefully if I keep doing that they'll keep falling."

Although his development was stunted with the knee injury sustained last March, Thompson has returned to the level he was playing at as a sophomore at Kansas.

"It was just a matter of seeing pitches and coming back from not doing much of that," he said.

"During the time I was in a knee brace, I couldn't do anything. I knew it was going to take a while to get back up to speed with pitching. I think I'm having some quality at-bats so far.

"I had seen some real good stuff in the Big 12, too. I had to come back from the long break and it was kind of tough. I struggled a little bit in the end (at Vancouver) and I think working through that adversity has helped me out."

During his two months on the sidelines, Thompson worked on the mental phase of the game.

"They took me on all the trips and I got to do some of the charts," he said.

"You look at a lot of stuff closer that you never get to look at when you're playing the game. You pick up on a lot of tendencies. In the end, that experience has helped me out."

For the next four months, a focused Thompson will concentrate on making up for lost time in a potent Bees lineup.

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