Scouting Mets Prospect #8: Josh Thole

Josh Thole followed up a career season in St. Lucie with an even better year in Binghamton in 2009, and now he has emerged as a possible solution to the current unsettled opening behind the plate. He will get further looks during spring training with the opportunity to earn a roster spot come Opening Day. Can he do it? Look inside to find out.

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Vital Statistics
Name: Josh Thole
DOB: October 28, 1986
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 205
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Status: 13th Round (2005) – Mater Dei HS (IL)

The five-year plan. That is what it took for catcher Josh Thole to make it this far. Drafted as a mid-round pick in the ever-improving Mets' 2005 draft class, which includes Bobby Parnell, Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey, Thole has endured every bit of minor league baseball. He now finds himself in position to earn significant playing time in New York in 2010.

That comes on the heels of spending just his first season in Double-A in 2009. Observers wanted to see Thole continue the growth he showed in St. Lucie in 2008. He did that and then some by becoming one of the best contact hitters in the Eastern League.

Thole, though limited in power, was basic in his approach. That led to a .328 average for the season—second in the Eastern League—46 RBI and only 34 strikeouts in 384 at-bats. His ability to hit his way on base drastically altered a career path that at one time seemed destined to peter out early.

"I made an adjustment last year in the Florida State League," Thole said. "I went with my two-strike approach—spread out, choked up –and I've just been doing that the whole time.

Thole raced to a .369 average through the first two months and kept his average as high as .346 as of August 1. That stretch exemplified the evolution of a hitter who possessed a career .262 average prior to 2008. Thole, who has hit just eight home runs in the minors, is never about power but a more basic approach and consistency that came with it. He impressed many, including his manager.

"Thole did a really great job this year," said former Binghamton manager Mako Oliveras. "He was very consistent at the plate and just kept hitting. When he got to the plate expected him to get a hit. He never tried to do too much but just hit. He was a big part of our team this year."

Thole got to be a part of the big league club in September when he jumped from Double-A to September 3 debut at Colorado. He chipped in down the home stretch by hitting .321 in 17 games and leaving an impression with both the Mets coaching staff and fans alike. He brought his hot bat to the Venezuelan Winter League and put in arguably the league's best performance. In 44 games, he hit .381 with three home runs, 28 RBI, a .470 on-base percentage and just 13 strikeouts.

Thole's offensive prowess is now well documented. Conversely, it is his growth behind the plate that is the focus. He was not even a full time catcher until midway through the 2008 season, but he is keenly aware that his development could go a long way next season.

"I feel great right now," Thole said. "I'm getting my blocking, my stance, everything honed down. That's a big part of me being consistent. I'm getting more consistent with my throwing. I'm getting better at calling games, and I feel a lot more comfortable with (everything) now than I did at the beginning of the year."

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2009

New York

.321

53

17

0

9

2

1

4

5

.356

.396

2009

Binghamton

.328

384

126

1

46

48

8

42

34

.395

.422

2008

St. Lucie

.300

347

104

5

56

49

2

45

38

.382

.427

2007

Savannah

.267

389

104

0

36

46

4

61

57

.372

.311

2006

Kingsport

.237

97

23

1

11

13

1

7

25

.303

.309

2005

GCL

.269

104

28

1

12

14

1

20

11

.406

.337



Batting and Power: Thole's approach is simple. He takes what pitchers give him and puts the ball in play. The majority of his contact is between the gaps, up the middle, with solid gap power. He chokes up on the bat which gives him excellent bat control. His sharp eye and pitch recognition allows him to fight off pitches, extend at-bats and earn his share of walks. Those tools also limit his strikeouts to rather dramatically low numbers. Good weight transfer, balance and a clean finish through the strike always keep him in a hitting position with the opportunity to make a lot of contact. Home runs are simply not part of Thole's game. His overall approach is about hitting for average with a line drive swing that will produce high on-base marks and extra base hits.

Base Running and Speed: Thole is a mobile catcher who has enough speed to take his chances on the base paths. He has enough athleticism to be aggressive, but he has to pick his spots. He has good base running instincts and understanding of situational running. He has enough speed that he can keep opposing batteries honest when on base.

Defense: The biggest variable to Thole's success is his glove work and he made important strides in 2009. Improved mobility behind the plate made him better at not only protecting the plate but his mobility compensated for average arm strength. He is quicker coming out of his crouch and a quicker release improved his ratio of throwing out would-be base stealers. His receiving still needs work. He tends to grab at the ball rather than naturally corral it. Additionally, he had a habit of catching the ball with an almost open-faced glove which minimizes his framing. Mobility and throwing were big steps taken, but receiving is still a work in progress and something that will take more time and practice.

Projection: Thole's bat will be enough to get him on the big league roster, but his defense will likely relegate him to a backup job. His left-handed swing and contact stroke is a favorable trait that should lend him in favor as a backup catcher as long as he keeps hitting. His defense will not be as strong as most backups who support an offensive catcher, but the Mets are not yet in that situation. His on-base capabilities mixed with serviceable defensive skills will retain him on a big league roster.

ETA: N/A. Thole made his big league debut last September. He will enter spring training with the opportunity to earn a spot on the 25-man roster and his camp performance will dictate whether or not he gets the job. If he does not, Thole will be the starter at Triple-A, waiting for the next call to New York.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nTo discuss all of the scouting reports, head to the Subscribers Forum
\r\n
\r\nVital Statistics
\r\nName: Josh Thole
\r\nDOB: October 28, 1986
\r\nHeight: 6'1\"
\r\nWeight: 205
\r\nBats: Left
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\nStatus: 13th Round (2005) – Mater Dei HS (IL)
\r\n
\r\nThe five-year plan. That is what it took for catcher Josh Thole to make it this far. Drafted as a mid-round pick in the ever-improving Mets' 2005 draft class, which includes Bobby Parnell, Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey, Thole has endured every bit of minor league baseball. He now finds himself in position to earn significant playing time in New York in 2010.
\r\n
\r\nThat comes on the heels of spending just his first season in Double-A in 2009. Observers wanted to see Thole continue the growth he showed in St. Lucie in 2008. He did that and then some by becoming one of the best contact hitters in the Eastern League.
\r\n
\r\nThole, though limited in power, was basic in his approach. That led to a .328 average for the season—second in the Eastern League—46 RBI and only 34 strikeouts in 384 at-bats. His ability to hit his way on base drastically altered a career path that at one time seemed destined to peter out early.
\r\n
\r\n\"I made an adjustment last year in the Florida State League,\" Thole said. \"I went with my two-strike approach—spread out, choked up –and I've just been doing that the whole time.
\r\n
\r\nThole raced to a .369 average through the first two months and kept his average as high as .346 as of August 1. That stretch exemplified the evolution of a hitter who possessed a career .262 average prior to 2008. Thole, who has hit just eight home runs in the minors, is never about power but a more basic approach and consistency that came with it. He impressed many, including his manager.
\r\n
\r\n\"Thole did a really great job this year,\" said former Binghamton manager Mako Oliveras. \"He was very consistent at the plate and just kept hitting. When he got to the plate expected him to get a hit. He never tried to do too much but just hit. He was a big part of our team this year.\"
\r\n
\r\nThole got to be a part of the big league club in September when he jumped from Double-A to September 3 debut at Colorado. He chipped in down the home stretch by hitting .321 in 17 games and leaving an impression with both the Mets coaching staff and fans alike. He brought his hot bat to the Venezuelan Winter League and put in arguably the league's best performance. In 44 games, he hit .381 with three home runs, 28 RBI, a .470 on-base percentage and just 13 strikeouts.
\r\n
\r\nThole's offensive prowess is now well documented. Conversely, it is his growth behind the plate that is the focus. He was not even a full time catcher until midway through the 2008 season, but he is keenly aware that his development could go a long way next season.
\r\n
\r\n\"I feel great right now,\" Thole said. \"I'm getting my blocking, my stance, everything honed down. That's a big part of me being consistent. I'm getting more consistent with my throwing. I'm getting better at calling games, and I feel a lot more comfortable with (everything) now than I did at the beginning of the year.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

Year

\r\n

\r\n Team

\r\n

\r\n AVG.

\r\n

\r\n AB

\r\n

\r\n Hits

\r\n

\r\n HR

\r\n

\r\n RBI

\r\n

R

\r\n

\r\n SB

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

K

\r\n

\r\n OBP

\r\n

\r\n SLG

\r\n

\r\n 2009

\r\n

\r\n New York

\r\n

\r\n .321

\r\n

\r\n 53

\r\n

\r\n 17

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 9

\r\n

\r\n 2

\r\n

\r\n 1

\r\n

\r\n 4

\r\n

\r\n 5

\r\n

\r\n .356

\r\n

\r\n .396

\r\n

\r\n 2009

\r\n

\r\n Binghamton

\r\n

\r\n .328

\r\n

\r\n 384

\r\n

\r\n 126

\r\n

\r\n 1

\r\n

\r\n 46

\r\n

\r\n 48

\r\n

\r\n 8

\r\n

\r\n 42

\r\n

\r\n 34

\r\n

\r\n .395

\r\n

\r\n .422

\r\n

\r\n 2008

\r\n

\r\n St. Lucie

\r\n

\r\n .300

\r\n

\r\n 347

\r\n

\r\n 104

\r\n

\r\n 5

\r\n

\r\n 56

\r\n

\r\n 49

\r\n

\r\n 2

\r\n

\r\n 45

\r\n

\r\n 38

\r\n

\r\n .382

\r\n

\r\n .427

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n Savannah

\r\n

\r\n .267

\r\n

\r\n 389

\r\n

\r\n 104

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 36

\r\n

\r\n 46

\r\n

\r\n 4

\r\n

\r\n 61

\r\n

\r\n 57

\r\n

\r\n .372

\r\n

\r\n .311

\r\n

\r\n 2006

\r\n

\r\n Kingsport

\r\n

\r\n .237

\r\n

\r\n 97

\r\n

\r\n 23

\r\n

\r\n 1

\r\n

\r\n 11

\r\n

\r\n 13

\r\n

\r\n 1

\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\n 7

\r\n

\r\n 25

\r\n

\r\n .303

\r\n

\r\n .309

\r\n

\r\n 2005

\r\n

\r\n GCL

\r\n

\r\n .269

\r\n

\r\n 104

\r\n

\r\n 28

\r\n

\r\n 1

\r\n

\r\n 12

\r\n

\r\n 14

\r\n

\r\n 1

\r\n

\r\n 20

\r\n

\r\n 11

\r\n

\r\n .406

\r\n

\r\n .337


\r\n
\r\nBatting and Power: Thole's approach is simple. He takes what pitchers give him and puts the ball in play. The majority of his contact is between the gaps, up the middle, with solid gap power. He chokes up on the bat which gives him excellent bat control. His sharp eye and pitch recognition allows him to fight off pitches, extend at-bats and earn his share of walks. Those tools also limit his strikeouts to rather dramatically low numbers. Good weight transfer, balance and a clean finish through the strike always keep him in a hitting position with the opportunity to make a lot of contact. Home runs are simply not part of Thole's game. His overall approach is about hitting for average with a line drive swing that will produce high on-base marks and extra base hits.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed: Thole is a mobile catcher who has enough speed to take his chances on the base paths. He has enough athleticism to be aggressive, but he has to pick his spots. He has good base running instincts and understanding of situational running. He has enough speed that he can keep opposing batteries honest when on base.
\r\n
\r\nDefense: The biggest variable to Thole's success is his glove work and he made important strides in 2009. Improved mobility behind the plate made him better at not only protecting the plate but his mobility compensated for average arm strength. He is quicker coming out of his crouch and a quicker release improved his ratio of throwing out would-be base stealers. His receiving still needs work. He tends to grab at the ball rather than naturally corral it. Additionally, he had a habit of catching the ball with an almost open-faced glove which minimizes his framing. Mobility and throwing were big steps taken, but receiving is still a work in progress and something that will take more time and practice.
\r\n
\r\nProjection: Thole's bat will be enough to get him on the big league roster, but his defense will likely relegate him to a backup job. His left-handed swing and contact stroke is a favorable trait that should lend him in favor as a backup catcher as long as he keeps hitting. His defense will not be as strong as most backups who support an offensive catcher, but the Mets are not yet in that situation. His on-base capabilities mixed with serviceable defensive skills will retain him on a big league roster.
\r\n
\r\nETA: N/A. Thole made his big league debut last September. He will enter spring training with the opportunity to earn a spot on the 25-man roster and his camp performance will dictate whether or not he gets the job. If he does not, Thole will be the starter at Triple-A, waiting for the next call to New York.
\r\n
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