Jake Thompson To Debut Saturday

It started last year with Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff. But Saturday, the first of the three marquee names in the 2015 Cole Hamels’ trade makes his big league debut with the Phillies. Jake Thompson came to the club last July with other top-flight prospects Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro, injured MLB starter Matt Harrison, and Asher and Eickhoff, in exchange for Hamels and lefty reliever Jake Diekman. This weekend he becomes a big leaguer, and the 2000th player ever to wear the uniform of the franchise, (as has been tracked by The Good Phight’s @tgpschmenk, among others).

Thompson was drafted by Detroit out of a Heath, TX high school in 2012, and traded to Texas in 2014 in the Joakim Soria deal. He’s been on national Top 100 lists since the following offseason. Through four months of this AAA season, the 22-year-old Thompson has compiled an 11-5 record with a 2.50 ERA, (substantially outperforming his 3.76 FIP, for whatever that’s worth), with a WHIP of 1.095. He’s not giving up a ton of homers, 10 thus far, for a reasonable 0.69/9IP ratio. (Note that I didn’t make the joke here – you all assumed it. I said “reasonable”). I’d call it a solid if not inspiring year, with his Ks dropping off from over 20% last year at AA, to just shy of 17% this year at Lehigh Valley. His walks have generally stayed in the very respectable range of 7-8% throughout his time in the upper minors, and this year is no different.

Now, Eickhoff has been a bit of a surprise, as he’s out-pitched his perceived value at time of the trade, to the point where he looks almost like what we expected from Thompson – a mid-rotation horse capable of racking up quality innings all year long. As it stands, and though Thompson’s ceiling probably remains a bit higher, I personally won’t be at all upset if the 6’4” righty plays to about the same level as Eickhoff. That may say more about The General that it does about The Machine Gun. (Yeah, I don’t love that nickname either. I’ll take suggestions, if you have them, provided none of them have the word “snake” in them).

In Matt Winkelman’s Midseason review, he mentioned issues Thompson seems to be having with his slider this year. That’s something to watch for during the game on Saturday and beyond. If he’s truly struggling with what had been his best secondary offering, we could see him abandon it in the short term in favor of the rest of his five-pitch arsenal. That includes a 2-seam and 4-seam fastball, which has generally sat in the mid-low 90s, a curve and change, neither of which will likely dominate opposing MLBers.

I saw Thompson last year in a AA playoff game at Bowie, MD. He looked then like what I was expecting, and though his current stats and reporting suggest he’s diminished some, I wouldn’t assume he can’t find that extra something for any given game. He was absolutely dealing that hot September night last year, keeping a decent lineup at Bay, even at the end of a long season. Starting tomorrow, we’ll get a chance to see how he closes out an even longer year, this time with the stress of starting for a big league club, albeit one without any added pressure to actually, you know, win baseball games. Which is nice, I imagine.

There’s little doubt Thompson will be in line for a rotation spot next spring, with the only foreseeable complications being a very strong spring from Ben Lively and/or Ricardo Pinto, an unexpected free agent pickup or QO signing by Jeremy Hellickson, or a brazen service time manipulation by the front office.

How many of the franchise #2001-#2050 Phillies will Thompson outlast? (I’ll guess 40. Check back on the day he leaves the org and we’ll see if I’m right). If this young man can stay healthy and perform up to the standards he’s set for himself with strong minor league performances thus far in his career, one can only hope that this will be the start of a long tenure in Philadelphia.

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6 comments

  1. Romus

    August 05, 2016 09:53 AM

    Thompson’s minor league career…concerning his K/9….is puzzling.
    His first 300 innings in the Tigers and Rangers orgs he was a 9K/9 pitcher…very respectable and at times a plus ‘whiff ratio’.
    Since joining the Phillies org….he went down into the 6/7K per 9 range. He may have forsaken his 4-seamer and gone the Eflin route and relied heavily on his 2-seamer….and as a result, the higher GB percentage.

  2. Romus

    August 05, 2016 10:11 AM

    Baseball Prospectus put out their scouting report on Thompson today.
    .”…..Thompson is a big righty, built to log innings in the middle of a major-league rotation. He will flash more than just third starter potential at times, especially on the days when his slider looks like a bona fide plus pitch instead of only flashing. This year it has backslid a bit, so he can lack a true swing-and-miss offering, but his four-pitch mix has been enough to dispatch International League hitters. The fastball has sat more in the 89-92 range in 2016, and the change and the curve require further development to even grade out at average. Thompson fills up the zone with all his pitches, but the command profile lags behind his control at times.”

  3. Nick

    August 05, 2016 11:40 AM

    Nola
    Thompson
    Vinny
    Eflin
    Eickhoff

    That makes me excited and provides me with a glimmer of hope for 2017. Now if only we could find some consistency on the other side of the ball to go with it. Someone who could be a stabilizing force up the middle for year to come. Where could that person be?

    • ryan

      August 05, 2016 12:31 PM

      I’m right on board, those pitchers should do just fine for the foreseeable future. If bWAR is your thing, our current pitching staff has already up up 10 which is right in line with other playoff caliber teams like the Jays/Tigers/Dodgers and isn’t too far behind the Cubbies. Granted, all of those teams also have actual offenses, but my point is that the 5 you listed should be a playoff capable core for years to come.

      I can’t wait for JPC either. The team we see by the end of 2017 should be a grinding machine on both sides of the diamond. OH/JPC/Williams should all grind and tear up the basepaths. Rupp/Franco/Altherr and Joseph/Hoskins should all work at bats and be legit power threats. Then those 5 pitchers all have a floor of effective pitcher and a ceiling of shutdown stud.

      When you look at each of VV/Eik/Eflin/Nola’s best games this year, you realize that each of them has the ability to go out there and dominate. Cant wait to add Thompson to the mix.

  4. Romus

    August 06, 2016 09:15 AM

    Kudos to Brad Engler……sole voice in Phillie phandom back in 2012 picking a Thresher’s catcher named Cameron Rupp as the future man behind the plate for the Phillies. Well done.

    • Brad Engler

      August 06, 2016 09:27 PM

      Kudos to Rupp for reaching the fairly high ceiling I decided to put on him while doing nothing more than “scouting” peripheral stat lines and reading old BA reporting.

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