Scouting Report: Dale Thayer

In a <b>FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT</B> looks a possible Padres closer of the future. He may have surprised in 2003 with his electric stuff but the Padres were wiser in 2004 and expected Dale Thayer to continue to pitch well. He did that and more for Lake Elsinore and Mobile this past year.

Dale Thayer began the year on rocky footing. He allowed seven runs, six earned, in his first outing of the year with the Storm. He would allow just four more earned runs over his next 49 appearances with the team. His ERA from May through July, a span of three months, was an unbelievable 0.49.

 His WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) sat at .85, marking the second consecutive year that he has kept his WHIP under 1.00.

 Not bad for a kid from Chico State who got into the system after a tryout.

 "He has a power fastball," Tye Waller, the Padres Director of Player Development, said. "When he can command that breaking ball and locate that breaking ball he is tough to deal with. Hopefully we can make that improvement so he can do it at the next level."

 His fastball sits in the low-nineties and besides the curveball, Thayer also throws a slider which is quite effective. He also sports a changeup that he would like to throw more often. Thayer admits his breaking ball needs some work, "to get a better breaking pitch, so I am not always just throwing fastball."

 The numbers tell a different story. Hitters batted .181 off him during his stint with Lake Elsinore and just .133 with runners in scoring position. And he struck out 54 in 55.1 innings with a 1.63 ERA.

 That prompted a late season call up to Mobile and a different role. Thayer was used as a closer with Lake Elsinore but stepped into an eighth inning role when Brad Baker moved up the chain and R.D. Spiehs moved into the closer's role.

   "What we like to do is put these guys in roles that are demanding," explained Waller. "We know if a guy can close in Lake Elsinore he should be able to pitch the middle innings in Mobile. With R.D. being a setup guy and doing a solid job, we thought Dale could get the ball to R.D. It keeps things in line and keeps competition. That is how Leo (Rosales) ended up replacing (Ryan) Klatt. That is how (Natanael) Mateo and (Wilmer) Villatoro ended up replacing (Nate) Sevier and Thayer.

 "It tells you a little bit about guys. When guys can pitch in the seventh and eighth, they can always pitch in the ninth because there is nobody behind them. When we ease these guys into it, this helps them prepare for that. That is what Dale Thayer has been able to do."

 Thayer didn't have quite the success in a small sampling at Mobile as he did in Lake Elsinore. He pitched in eight games, spanning 7.1 innings and allowed three runs. Ironically, the runs he allowed in Mobile all came in the ninth inning.

 "We still see him as a possible closer," said Waller. "Again, when you go up the level, sometimes with a little better lineup you find a weakness. We have a chance to work guys through that."

 Thayer will begin the year in Mobile and if history is any indication, he should again put up incredible numbers.

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