Padres Prospect Interview: Sean Thompson

Sean Thompson had two starts that left Padres fans wondering if the talented left-hander simply lost it, or was getting tired over a long season. Since then he has reclaimed his masterful work and is becoming the leader of the Fort Wayne Wizards drive towards the playoffs.

Sean Thompson hadn't allowed more than four runs in any start all year until an August 3 start. That night he gave up nine runs and followed it up with another nine run outing on August 8. A season long ERA of 2.54 swelled to 3.58, the first time he had reached the three's since June 11.

Since then, Thompson has rolled off a string of four consecutive games where he has allowed no more than a run. Despite the success, Thompson is not ready to proclaim himself as the next coming.

In fact, Thompson looks back to a start on July 5 of this year. He allowed one run in four innings of ball before getting the hook. His pitch count was too high.

Five times this year, Thompson has walked five or more in a game. That game was the most troublesome to the young pitcher.

"I walked six in that outing and there wasn't a noose in my bathroom so I couldn't do anything about it," Thompson joked.

His season has been a success, even if it isn't showing up in the win column. Over his most recent four game string of dominance, Thompson earned just one victory and is at 8-6 on the year.

That hasn't done anything to calm the sleepless lefty.

He has not yet taken it to the next level in his estimation. For a guy who has kept the opposition to two runs or less in 17 of his 25 starts, you have to wonder just how good he can and will be.

"I haven't really been too impressed by anything I have done in pro ball yet," Thompson said. "I really think that I have so much more in me that every time I go out there I am looking – I just don't have any respect for any of the hitters. If they are getting hits or I am walking guys – I am not happy."

It is his relentless approach to the game that has him believing he can do so much more. Thompson charts pitches, notices the trends of hitters but someone manages to pitch to his own strengths, despite all the data swimming in his head.

He is infinitely blessed with one of the best, if not the best, curveballs in the organization. He doesn't throw 95 miles per hour but it is his attitude on the mound and a belief that he won't get beat.

Oftentimes it is Thompson beating himself with his sometimes erratic control. Yet the kid who can't find the strike zone one day will send ten walking back to the dugout in dismay the next.

"I have always been a confident person but I have never really known how my pitches are," a suddenly bashful Thompson replies. "The Padres selected my curveball the best in the organization. I wish I could say – I have seen a few guys look stupid when I throw it but other than that – its one of my out pitches, I will say that.

"Keeping hitters off-balance is one of the biggest things. Keeping hitters off balance and going inside. My changeup following – the right pitch sequence for me because I am not a flamethrower."

While the walk totals may be up, Thompson has kept hitters off the bases, sporting a low .236 average against. Although still young at the tender age of 21, Thompson has proven to age well. In the sixth and seventh innings of games he has pitched he has kept the opposition on their heels. They are batting just .150 off him.

Don't look for Thompson to be happy with his accomplishments.

"I have given up 14 home runs," Thompson says in angst.

What is a prospect if he isn't always looking to get better?

Thompson realizes what his weak points are – at least in his eyes and is hard at work to correct them. No detail is missing and it is the reason the Padres think so highly of him.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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