2012 MLB Draft Q & A: Jake Thompson

Our 2012 MLB Draft Q & A series concludes with an interview with right-handed pitcher Jake Thompson of Rockwall-Heath H.S. in Rockwall, Texas. He is projected to be a high-round draft selection and has a commitment to TCU. Inside, he discusses why he chose to commit to TCU, his workout routine, his thought process regarding the draft, his favorite moments as a high school player and much more.

Rays Digest: If you had to give a scouting report on yourself, what would it look like? What kind of pitches do you throw and at what speed?

Jake Thompson: I'm a sinker, fastball guy. 91-93 [mph], touch 94-95. Good slider, hard slider, 83-84. Circle-change, 78-79.

Rays Digest: What is your approach on the mound and how do you go about attacking hitters?

Jake Thompson: I try to command the zone, throw my off-speed for strikes. I think that's important, get ahead and then you can set up your other pitches.

Rays Digest: I saw you switched your commitment [from Nebraska] to TCU. What made you choose TCU over other schools?

Jake Thompson: I thought that it was a good fit. I really like the pitching coach. They've done a lot of good things with pitchers here. They're going to let me swing it too. Looking at the school that's one of things I want to do, I want to continue to hit.

Rays Digest: What position do you play on the field when you do hit?

Jake Thompson: At the next level, I'll probably be a first baseman. In high school, I've been playing third.

Rays Digest: Do you consider yourself a hitter as well at the next level, or is your primary focus on pitching and you just hit on the side as another option?

Jake Thompson: For my future in professional baseball, I consider myself as a pitcher. [For] college, I have a lot of power - big homerun guy, so I can definitely still do it.

Rays Digest: What's your workout program like during the season and in the off-season as well?

Jake Thompson: Off-season: I have three hard, heavy lifts a week. First lift is hard, really heavy lower body – squats, deadlifts, and I do a lot of core-work that day. My second workout is an upper body workout. I do some power cleans, a lot of shoulder stuff and a little bit of chest. Not too much. [I] really try to add strength while staying flexible at the same time. Last workout of the week, I go back and do more legs. It's really more of a recuperation day. I'll do a little less weight, more reps and faster lifts. Then during the season, I do one real heavy lift on Sunday. Throughout the week I do a bunch of stretching and kind of rehab stuff.

Rays Digest: Obviously you're focused on your current season and TCU, but you're also being talked about as a potential high-round pick. Have you made any preparations looking at the draft, which is coming up in a few days, and do you have any representation at all?

Jake Thompson: I am being represented by Front Line Management, the same company that has Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett. Right now I'm focused on my high school season, because we're not done playing yet. I'm anxious for the draft just because I want to see how it works out. But as of right now, I'm just focused on trying to get my team to state[s].

Rays Digest: If a team decides to draft you, what kinds of things are you looking for to make that potential decision whether to go to college or sign with a team?

Jake Thompson: I want to make a smart decision. I think everybody wants to play professional baseball and I do for sure. It just depends at what point I go and play. I want to make a smart decision, not sign if I fly down the draft just because I want to go play. I just want to make sure that the decision makes sense and if there is the right opportunity there I have no problem doing it. I just want to make sure it's smart.

Rays Digest: Has there been a particular influence on you both as a player and as a person?

Jake Thompson: I'd probably say as a person, my dad and my brother have been real big influences on me. My brother is seven years older than me, so I always grew up watching him play. Even though he wasn't a pitcher, he kind of showed me how everything is supposed to be done. As a player, my high school coaches have been real good with me. When I was about 13 or 15, my summer coach, [who] was an ex-minor league pitcher [and] played at Arizona State, really taught me a lot about the mentality of pitching and not being afraid to work in the zone. Stuff along those lines.

Rays Digest: Looking back at your high school career, are there any particular highlights that stand out to you?

Jake Thompson: This year, at Rockwall, we got two real high draft picks in Steve Bean and Spencer Edwards. I threw a complete game shutout and struck out 16. When I was a sophomore, I struck out 18 in a game. My freshman year - the first homerun I ever hit - the bases were loaded and there were two outs and the other team had just brought in a new pitcher. My coach pulled me to the side and told me to hit a homerun. It was 9-6 and I swung and missed at the first two. I was down 0-2 and then I hit a walk-off grand slam.

Rays Digest: Do you have a favorite MLB team and is there a player you specifically admired growing up?

Jake Thompson: I don't have a specific team that I like. I have a few teams that I'm not fond of, just because of my hometown Rangers. As a fan, I kind of dislike the Yankees a little bit, which I'm sure you know all about that. Players I kind of look up to - I like watching Matt Cain pitch for the Giants, as we're kind of similar, and Josh Johnson with the Marlins. I like [Matt] Garza and his attitude on the mound. He's a bulldog.

Marc Nemcik is the MLB Draft correspondent for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @marcnemcik


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