Prospect Profile: Clete Thomas

When the Tigers drafted Clete Thomas, they weren't exactly sure what they'd be getting. After all, despite being immensely talented, Thomas never really turned all that talent into production while at Auburn. But, if his one half season of pro ball is any indication, the Tigers might have found themselves a stud.

Clete Thomas
Position: First Baseman Height: 5-11 Weight: 195
Born: 11/14/1983 Bats: Left Throws: Right

Background
Clete joined the Tigers organization following his selection in the 6th round of the 2005 player draft, and signing for $150,000. Thomas was not only a highly thought of collegiate player, but was also considered a top prep prospect as well, but chose to attend Auburn University instead. Despite his top notch tools, scouts have been a bit disappointed in Clete's production. Thomas improved each season while playing right field for Auburn, but never matched the production his tools projected he could reach. His best statistical season was his last in college, posting a .328/.423/.567 line in a very poor hitter's environment at Auburn. After turning pro, Thomas was assigned to Oneonta of the NYPL, where he continued to hit at a high level. After 18 games with the O-Tigers, Thomas was promoted to low-A West Michigan for the final 51 games of the season. Thomas cooled some with the ‘Caps and his power disappeared, but he still demonstrated plenty of potential at the top of the order, finishing with a .311/.393/.417 line for the season.

Scouting Report
Thomas isn't quite a true five-tool talent; he lacks the power necessary to be considered such a prospect. Thomas' speed is his best tool, and he uses it aggressively both on the bases and in the field. He likes to take extra bases and force defenses to react to him, and is an astute base runner as well. His speed helps him overcome suspect outfield instincts, but he's working diligently to become a better overall defender. If he can improve enough to remain in centerfield, his offense will play much better. Clete stays waits on balls well, hitting them deep in the zone and allowing him to completely analyze each pitch. He struggles some with high-end fastballs, but that could change as he sees more of them in his professional career. Thomas has average power at best, but his ability to drive the ball from gap to gap with regularity still makes him a threat offensively. If his defense doesn't come along, he'll be forced back to an outfield corner (where he played at Auburn), and his prospect stock will take a significant hit. He's got the tools to be an outstanding top of the order threat, but he must make some significant strides as he faces stiffer competition.

Performance

Level

Team

AB

AVG

2B

HR

RBI

SO

BB

OBP%

SLG%

SS-A

Oneonta

70

.386

5

1

14

11

12

.488

.529

A

West Mich.

194

.284

8

0

11

37

21

.356

.376


Health Record
Thomas has been healthy throughout his baseball career.

The Future
After gaining extensive experience at low-A in 2005, Thomas will head to Lakeland for the 2006 season, where he will once again man centerfield. The Tigers will look for Thomas to control the strike zone and drive the ball all over the field, without worrying about hitting the long ball. If he get on base regularly, wreak havoc on the bases, and play at least average defense in center, the Tigers will likely consider his first full season a rousing success. Clete must improve his reads and routes in center to become a solid defender, and he'll be expected to put in extra time to accomplish that goal. Look for Thomas to have a streaky season for the L-Tigers, but overall I expect him to produce well at the plate and make strides in the field.

Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.


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