Tommy Thompson is serving his first year in the Baltimore Orioles' organization as the Manager for the high-A Frederick Keys. In 2006, he served as the Manager for of the Great Falls White Sox in the advanced rookie-level Pioneer League. The previous fourteen seasons, he had served as the Chicago White Sox Minor League Catching Coordinator. Recently, I had a chance to catch up with Tommy and discuss some of the top prospects playing for the Frederick Keys.
ITW: Blake Davis has really had a breakout campaign with the bat. What do you think of his chances of sticking at shortstop at higher levels?
Tommy Thompson: Good, he's a good shortstop. He's a good player, he's got baseball instincts, he competes, he can bunt, hit and run, he uses the whole field, he hits left-handed pitching just as good as right-handed pitching; he knows how to play the game. He's got heart and he's a player. He can play second base, he could be a utility guy, he takes balls in the outfield sometimes and he's a natural out there. He's never going to be a power hitter, but he can be a doubles, gap to gap type and hit some out on some occasions. He can steal you a base. He's got a lot to offer. He's got a lot of athletic ability.
ITW: Jonathan Tucker is a guy who, maybe there isn't a lot impressive about him physically, but he gets the job done. How does he succeed?
Tommy Thompson: He plays big. Tuck's a gamer, he's a dirt dog. If you're in a war, you want Jonathan Tucker in your cubby hole; I'm going to tell you that right now. He ‘s a battler from start to finish. He comes out to twin, he competes, and he works hard in practice. Here's a guy that can play center, right, left, any infield position. He can steal a base, he can bunt. He's a perfect utility type guy in the major leagues if he doesn't play one set position. He's a great guy ion the clubhouse. He's a leader. He's a leader in the clubhouse and he's a leader with his actions on the field. You'd love to surround yourself with nine Jonathan Tuckers.
ITW: Arturo Rivas missed some time with a shoulder injury. Can you tell us a bit about that and the seriousness of the injury?
Tommy Thompson: Well, he dove for a ball and he had some tenderness. I'm not a doctor, I can't tell you exactly what it was. We protected him by putting him on the disabled list until he got healthy. He's had a little leg problem, but this kid's got ability and tools. You just let Art play. He's got a plus major league arm and he can hit for power. He can use the whole field. You just got to keep throwing him out in the lineup every day and let him get his four or five at bats and let his tools and his makeup take over. The man above blessed him with some ability and, hopefully, Art will get the most out of it.
ITW: Last year, he saw some time in centerfield. This year, he's been playing right-field with Kennard Jones in center. Is he a guy who could see some time in center at higher levels?
Tommy Thompson: He could. I tell you, he's got one of the great arms in the minor leagues. On the 20-80 [scale], 80 is the best major league arm out there, he's got a 70 arm. He's got a right-field plus arm. Her can play some centerfield, but, right now with Kennard such a good centerfielder and Tucker, he's doing a great job in right-field and he'll probably stay there.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com