Tigers Scouting Report #6: Jake Thompson

A member of the TigsTown Top Ten since being drafted in the summer of 2012, Thompson is showing an advanced arsenal for his age, resulting in success at a young age last year in West Michigan and early in 2014 for Lakeland. What makes up Thompson's arsenal that's made him so effective early in his career?

Jake Thompson

Vitals

Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 1/31/1994 (2014 Opening Day Age: 20)
Height/Weight: 6-4/235
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Acquired: 2012 MLB Draft, 2nd Round
Ranking History: #7 (2013), #6 (2014)

Background: The Tigers highest pick in the 2012 draft, Thompson had unusual polish for a high school arm, and it showed with a dominating performance in the GCL that summer. He finished with a 1.91 ERA across seven starts with more than a strikeout per inning. At just 19-years old the Tigers pushed him to Low-A in 2013 and he performed well with a 3.13 ERA and nearly ten strikeouts per nine innings in 17 games (16 starts). He has started off in hot fashion this year in High-A, posting a 1.20 ERA through his first five starts.

Performance:

2013 Stats - Pitching
TEAMGGSSVIPHHRRERBBSOHBPERAWHIPW/L
Lakeland 1211067.14912721273552.811.135-3
West Mich 1716083.179438293291113.131.333-3


Scouting Report

Body: Physical, strong frame; cuts imposing figure; body is maxed out and doesn't project physically; won't hang more weight/mass in a good way; should be able to maintain body long term but have to watch it as he enters mid- to late-20s.

Delivery/Mechanics: Amazingly consistent for player his age/experience; works quickly; gets from balance to release with speed but remains in control; above-average arm speed; consistent arm slot on all pitches; typically finishes well but will fall off at times and leave pitches high to arm side as arm drags through; should be consistent with clean delivery long term.

Fastball: Easy 90-92 with two-seamer; heavy pitch with plenty of sink; difficult to lift; works down in the zone; will subtract at times and dip to 88-89 with sinker; can reach as high as 93 without losing movement; four-seam can sit 91-93 and will reach 95 when he reaches back for extra; has to work down as consistently with four-seam; tends to elevate; both pitches play well; appears to have some deception that isn't visible to naked eye; hitters don't square FB (even four-seam version); quality offering; won't add much velo overall but should become more consistent with maintaining velo deeper and deeper into starts. Grade – Present 5+/Future 6

Slider: Money pitch; hard, tight rotation; low- to mid-80s; really trusts pitch; can stay horizontal but will have frequent vertical element to pitch; swing-and-miss pitch right now; borderline plus offering; too much for A-ball hitters to handle; will pitch off SL at times because it is so effective; true plus pitch at peak; could reach higher but doesn't need to. Grade – 5+/6

Curveball: Relatively new; added in 2013; slower pitch than SL; sits upper-70s; not reliable; break can get slurvy at times; sharper when shape is more 11-5 than when 10-4; needs to stay on top of pitch more consistently; will cast on occasion; pitch has made quick progress since adding to arsenal last year; below-average with fringe to solid potential. Grade – 4/5

Changeup: Ahead of CB; behind SL; low-80s velo; good arm speed and same arm slot as FB; will show occasional fade to go along with consistent sink; won't miss advanced bats but off-sets FB well and keeps hitters guessing; good velo separation; fringe pitch at present; still developing and can reach average. Grade – 4+/5

Control/Command: Consistently works in the zone with both FB; SL can move around zone at will; command of CH and CB lag behind; CH command is improving quickly; has consistent and clean delivery; projects for above-average command profile; needs to learn to move FB out of zone to change hitter looks; elevates FB well to change sight line.

Other: Excellent presence; pitches with attitude; comes right at hitters; won't back down regardless of situation; trusts his stuff; has a little *uck you in him; intelligent kid; plus-plus makeup.



Final Word

Summary: Quality profile; advanced for his age; FB and SL can dominate hitters for long stretches; SL is way too much for low level bats to handle; CH will be average to match above-average FB and plus SL; CB will be fringe but good change-of-pace look; intense competitor; pitches with anger/aggression but controls emotion well; strong profile overall.

Risk: High risk; No upper level resume; must demonstrate that rest of arsenal outside of SL will play against advanced hitters; third and fourth pitches still require development.

Projection: Limited growth potential across arsenal; lower ceiling; relatively high floor for pitcher his age; 2016 MLB ETA; #3 ceiling if CH and CB progress to fringe/average levels; back-end starter floor with FB-SL combo and two show-me pitches.

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