See You In September? Rich Thompson

With rosters set to expand in less than two weeks, it's time to consider some of the new faces that could wind up in Philadelphia. First is Lehigh Valley outfielder Rich Thompson, who has nice numbers at Triple-A and could be deserving of a shot.

Rich Thompson didn't start the season in the Phillies organization, but came on board in late April after being signed as a minor league free agent. The Reading, Pennsylvania native signed with the Phillies and stuck close to home when he was initially assigned to Double-A Reading. After just a three-game tune-up with the R-Phils, Thompson was bumped up to a struggling Lehigh Valley IronPigs team that was in desperate need of some offense.

At first, Thompson caught the same offensive weakness bug that the rest of the team had, but after starting 0-for-7, he went on to pick up at least one hit in each of the next six games only to see it slide back down to the .230 range by Memorial Day. From then on though, Thompson has produced offensively and entered August hitting .291 for the 'Pigs. Offensively, he's not a power-hitting type of player, but more the type to drive the ball to the gaps and occasionally grab an extra base if an outfielder doesn't go all out on a play. It's that hustle that has made him a fan favorite in Lehigh Valley and it embodies the type of player that Thompson strives to be. "I've always felt that the one thing that I can do is hustle, whether it's offensively or defensively," said Thompson shortly after joining Lehigh Valley. He's made that a habit during his stay in Lehigh Valley.

Defensively, Thompson will routinely sacrifice his body to make a play both diving for a ball or running into a fence if he thinks he's got any shot at picking up an out.

Since Thompson isn't on the 40 man roster, there's not a lot of opportunity for him to get a September call. However, if there is a spot that opens, he would be an interesting option and could give the Phillies someone to pick up some time as a pinch-runner or as a defensive replacement. His style of play would be popular in Philadelphia, especially since he's aggressive, but not so aggressive that he makes mistakes. At 29, Thompson also has the maturity that a lot of other players lack.

The bottom line: Because he's not on the 40 man roster, the chances of Thompson getting a call are remote. The Phillies would do well though to be sure that they find a way to keep him in the organization since he's a minor league free agent. While his offense isn't overly impressive, he's a good enough hitter to help in some spots and has good defensive and baserunning skills that would play well in the organization. The fact that he's a left-handed hitter doesn't hurt either. Technically, Thompson does have major league experience, having played in six games with Kansas City in 2004 when he went 0-for-1, but having stolen a base as a pinch-runner. Thompson has slightly above average speed and a good ability to read pitchers so he can get an effective jump.



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