Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Acquired: 2012 MLB Draft, 2nd Round
Ranking History: N/A
A product of Rockwall-Heath High School in Texas, Thompson was the Tigers second round pick in 2012. After signing, Thompson quickly reported to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League where he made seven starts. The Tigers monitored his workload closely as he averaged just over four innings a start. He allowed just 14 hits in 28 1/3 innings, walked ten batters and struck out 31 hitters en route to a 1.91 ERA.
Thompson stands out among teenagers because of his physically mature frame and workhorse projection. Already 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Thompson lacks physical projection but already owns very good strength.
Before he tired down the stretch last year, Thompson sat in the 89-91 mph range with his fastball, reaching as high as 93-94 mph during his starts. He has good downward angle to the plate, helping accentuate the natural heavy sink on his fastball. Because of his physical maturity, Thompson's fastball is unlikely to bump up as he ages though he could sustain 90-92 mph more consistently deep into games.
Scouts vary in the nomenclature used for Thompson's breaking ball with some considering it a slider and others a curveball. In my observation, the pitch looks more like a short, sharp slider than a traditional curveball. At its best, Thompson's slider shows tight spin and quality tilt with the potential to become a plus pitch down the line. On the flip side, Thompson doesn't always stay on top of his slider, causing it to flatten out and just spin toward the plate.
At times, Thompson has shown feel for a change-up but he has a tendency to get deliberate with his arm speed and give the pitch away. With work, the pitch has a chance to develop into an average offering.
Thompson has a smooth delivery with good arm speed and a clean arm action. The ball comes out of his hand well and he generates his velocity easily. As a result of his quality mechanics, Thompson has the ability to pound the strike zone. He struggled commanding the ball in his pro debut and will need to develop and ability to throw quality pitches both in and out of the strike zone.
Thompson's developmental path centers almost exclusively on improving his consistency. He has little physical development remaining and just needs to polish his secondary pitches and command to begin approaching his number three or four starter ceiling.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP BAA R
Thompson tired at the end of last summer and the Tigers shut him down. Though there were no significant concerns at that time, there have been murmurs of decreased velocity this spring. He should be watched closely but he doesn't carry any of the traditional injury red flags.
Thompson's relative polish suggests he could handle a full-season assignment but the Tigers may take things a little slower with him because of his fatigue last year and the early signs this spring. With health and a relatively normal developmental arc, Thompson could become a workhorse 3/4 starter in the next 3-4 years.
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