Thompson Seizing His Opportunity

Charleston first baseman Bo Thompson began the season in Extended Spring Training after a rather inauspicious debut season a year ago. He hit his way out of Extended, however, with a strong showing there and when All Star first baseman Connor Spencer was shut down for the season with an injury, affording Thompson more playing time, he seized his opportunity and now plans on running with it.

[Photo by Jerry Coli/Charleston RiverDogs]

Thompson, a 13th round pick out of the The Citadel a year ago, didn't exactly turn some heads with his numbers in the Gulf Coast League last year, hitting just .182 in 31 games. Known for his plus patience [he did draw 24 walks in those 31 games last year], he leaned on that patience this year when he began the season in Extended Spring Training.

He was reportedly a standout in Extended, hitting six home runs and seeing some significant improvement in his defense too. Instead of going to Staten Island or another short-season league team, however, he was promoted to low-A Charleston on June 3rd.

"I was actually taking an afternoon nap and they woke me up, 'Bo, you're going to Charleston'," Thompson said of getting promoted. "I had like three missed calls from my manager. I was super excited. It was a great ride from Tampa to Charleston -- I was smiling the whole time.

"I had to work my way out. I hit really good in Extended [Spring Training] and played really well at first base. I just think they wanted to teach more things and that's what I did.

"I'd say I did pretty well in Extended hitting-wise. Fielding-wise I was doing good [too]. You always want to get moved up but it was actually kind of a surprise to tell you the truth. I had it in my mind already that I was going to go to Staten Island or Pulaski."

Upon his promotion to Charleston he had initially worked on cleaning up a hitch in his swing, one that caused him to just .125 in his first ten games with the RiverDogs. He went on to hit .274 over his remaining 61 games in Charleston with 13 doubles and three home runs, and filled in admirably for Connor Spencer, Charleston's All-Star first baseman, after he went down with a season-ending injury.

"I love Connor. He's a great guy. When he went down with the hamate bone injury -- you hate to see any injury, especially with Connor, that's one of my good friends -- I was his backup and when he got hurt I went in and started playing more. You never want a guy to get hurt but sometimes it works out. I guess baseball is all timing."

A college home run derby finalist for The Citadel, while there are some things to really like about Thompson's numbers in Charleston [he walked 45 times and struck out just 30 times], the fact is the power hasn't shown up just yet though.

"It's a lot of factors," he said. "I think the hitch [hurt] and I think Charleston is one of the hardest parks to hit at. There's no excuses. I actually think I hit the ball hard this year, it just was more gap to gap doubles than it was towering home runs."

So while the numbers may not jump off of the page as a whole for Thompson, he is pretty content that he used his first full season as a nice foundation and stepping stone for the seasons to come.

"I have no regrets about the season. I think I did well. I also think there's areas that I need to work on. Overall though I felt like I had a pretty good year.

"It was my first full year getting to play at first base. Even in college I never got to play a full year at first base. I was always first base, DH, sharing time, and this year it was like 'this is yours'.

"I felt good. I had a few errors here and there but I felt like I learned a lot more at first base this year. Travis Chapman taught me a lot over there with footwork and everything. I felt good."

While the progress at first base was quite tangible, Thompson also realizes that it's his bat that is going to take him where he wants to go down the road.

"If I had to work on one thing it would be better at hitting," he admitted. "It's tough because I want to work on everything but I feel like guys who hit, they rise to the top quicker. They still play great defense when they go [up] too though. Hitting definitely gets you to the big leagues."

He cleaned up that early-season hitch in his swing to the point now where it's no longer an issue.

"It's starting to become more second nature now but as you know when you're playing 140-something games one day you got to the park you've lowered your hands and you keep it there and it's just a bad habit, so you just try to work on getting into your routine and that's what I've been doing.

"I've been sticking to my routine and not drop my hands. I've been doing the drills and now it feels second nature. All of the film that I watched from the second half of the season it seemed it's worked."

Thompson was rewarded for his solid 2015 campaign with an invitation to Instructs this offseason. He was given an opportunity to move up and receive more playing time, and he feels he seized the opportunity and now he wants to run with it.

"I think so. That's the ultimate goal, to try to open up the eyes up top and I think it's a good thing this year that they're sending me to Instructs.

"I didnt' get to go last year so this is a big opportunity for me to go. I think I opened up some eyes and now I've got to keep the eyes on me. Hopefully this is a nice stepping stone to keep moving forward," he concluded.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories