Padres Prospect Q&A: Mike Thompson

Mike Thompson finally found himself during the 2004 season as a member of the Mobile BayBears. We caught up with him to talk about life in the heat, his batting average and the advice he received from Jake Peavy. We all know the weather isn't kind during the summer months in Mobile. Can you talk about how it is to pitch there and what you do differently?

Mike Thompson: I tell you I have never used rosin until this year. I just started using it and here in Mobile it is really muggy, hot and humid. Tennessee and other places it is not so bad, but right on the water here you get 95 degree weather and add that humidity, it is tough. You get to the fifth, sixth inning and you are breathing fairly hard. I think — it will wear on you. Did you ever get into the eighth inning in Mobile?

Mike Thompson: I think seven innings is as high as I got in Mobile. And you are from Colorado…

Mike Thompson: I am used to that negative five, negative ten around December, January and there is no humidity whatsoever in Colorado. The air is so thin up there. It's a good thing though that the air is so thick down here and the ball doesn't travel as far. The Cal League, when you get in High Desert or Lancaster, that ball can take off and disappear. It is a pitchers league. The humidity and the heat can wear down on a pitcher also, take its toll just as much as it can take its toll on the hitters and the flight of the ball. It all evens out. It is a little bit more mental as you move on up. You spent some time as a reliever. Talk about how you transitioned from a relief role to the starting rotation and what you had to do differently.

Mike Thompson: You have four days to prepare for one day whereas in the bullpen you are prepared to throw just about everyday. I enjoyed that. Just not knowing when you are going to throw is exciting to me. I have read in many books that starting pitchers just that in four days of not dong anything they can just mentally wear themselves down thinking about the past and all that. That is the only thing I don't like about starting but I really do enjoy throwing six to seven innings at a time versus one every two days or two every three days. What was the biggest difference that saw you see success during the 2004 season?

Mike Thompson: Executing pitches. I talked to Jake Peavy last year and he said the only difference between Minor League and Major League pitchers is they can execute eight out of ten times versus the average minor leaguer can five to six times. Executing pitches and hitting your spots. But you have to be aggressive too at the same time. You can't just aim the ball in there and hope for the best. You have to be aggressive and if you can combine all those things with a good mental approach.

Jake Peavy — I think he could have pitched in the Big Leagues when he was 17. He has some more electric stuff.

Mechanics-wise, my pitching coach up here, Gary Lance, and I had Charlie Hough last year who also helped me quite a bit. He was exceptional last year. He was not what I expected. I figured this old-timer would just come in here — a knuckleballer — but he was really something else. He really taught me a lot about the game and how to prepare and be ready for anything. This offseason I got to throw with four big leaguers. Scott Elarton who struggled this year and Brad Lidge with the Astros, Mike Myers, Turk Wendell and Mike Dejean. You get that and I was working out with Bus Campbell, the scout that drafted Roy Holliday, a great pitching guru. You learn a lot being around those guys who are at a big league level. You got a double in your first at bat of the year and then, well, to be kind that was a nice hit. You didn't have a hit the rest of the year. What happened?

Mike Thompson: It seems like...that guy, his last name was Rose, throws about 87. I might be able to get a bat on 87. These starters for Jacksonville and Huntsville are all throwing low-nineties and I don't have the quickest hands.

My main goal is to be able to get that bunt down. If I can bunt then I will be happy. Yeah, I am working on the hitting. It is something you will need. It is an area you can work on. Everything helps. The little things help. It can keep you in a ballgame longer and is a good thing to have on your side. That is something I am going to work on this offseason really hard, hitting and bunting. Talk about your success laying down a few bunts.

Mike Thompson: I have had to bunt three times and have failed three times. I hope this is not going on Bochy's desk!

I wasn't the greatest hitter in high school either. That is why I chose pitching. But I am trying. I take BP when I am supposed. They have said I have gotten better. If I can get a little practice in.

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