Jake Thompson Scouting Report: Jake Thompson ranked #4 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 30 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 32 (and who weren't traded). I've done this the last couple of years, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of what I've written before, particularly regarding draft history or performance pre-2014. Also, this is not based on my personal observations -- I'm not a scout, and haven't seen most of these guys. I'm just aggregating the numbers and what others say about these players.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at Jake Thompson...
Jake Thompson is a 6'4", 235 lb. righthanded pitcher who turns 21 years old in two days. Thompson is a native of Rockwall, Texas, and was drafted out of Rockwall High School in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft by the Detroit Tigers, two picks before the Rangers selected Nick Williams (and 9 picks after the Rangers took Jamie Jarmon). Baseball America had Thompson as the #139 prospect in their top 500 draft rankings pre-draft. Thompson signed for a $532,000 bonus, which was slot money, and went to the Gulf Coast Rookie League, where he logged a 1.91 ERA in 28.1 IP with the Tigers' complex league team.
In 2013, Thompson didn't join an affiliate until the end of May, when he was sent to the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Tigers' affiliate in the low-A Midwest League. He ended up making 16 starts and one relief appearance, with a 3.13 ERA in 83.1 IP, striking out 91, walking 32, and allowing just 4 home runs. He also hit 11 batters, compared to just 4 wild pitches, which suggests he wasn't afraid to pitch inside.
In the 2013-14 offseason, Thompson was listed at #5 on the Tigers' top 10 prospect list by Baseball America and Keith Law, #4 by Jason Parks in the BP Tigers top 10 prospect list, and #2 by John Sickels.
2014 saw Thompson take a significant step forward. He started the year in high-A Lakeland in the Florida State League, and put up a 3.14 ERA in 83 IP over 16 starts, striking out 79 and walking 25, before earning a promotion to AA Erie. Thompson only made two starts at Erie, however, before getting dealt, along with Corey Knebel, to Texas in the Joakim Soria trade. Thompson finished the year with Frisco, registering a 3.28 ERA in 35.2 IP. For the season as a whole, Thompson had a 3.12 ERA in 129.2 IP, with 130 Ks, 47 walks, and 6 homers allowed
Thompson's performance turned heads, with most prospect gurus this offseason ranking him anywhere from #2 to #5 in what is a pretty solid Rangers farm system. Baseball America had Thompson as the #13 prospect in the Midwest League after the 2014 season, and Keith Law has Thompson ranked #52 in his offseason top 100 list. I expect to see Thompson in the back end of most top 100 lists this offseason.
Thompson is a big young pitcher with a starter's build, and is someone who projects to be able to stay in the rotation long-term. He gets groundballs with a low-90s two-seam fastball, and has a slider and changeup which are still works in progress, but which project to be good enough to be solid major league pitches. Like most pitchers his age, the issue with Thompson is continuing to refine his command and his secondary pitches as he moves up the organizational ladder.
Thompson likely will return to Frisco to start the 2015 season, with the possibility of moving to AAA Round Rock late in the year if he is healthy and productive. Thompson is not Rule 5 eligible until after 2016, so he isn't a likely September call-up next year, but if he continues on the path he's on, we could see him in the majors at some point in 2016, and he's in position to be fighting for a rotation spot come Opening Day, 2017.
In terms of ceiling, Thompson is someone who could maybe be a #2 if everyone goes right, but who probably profiles as more of a #3 or #4 type long-term. On the other hand, if his command and secondaries don't come along, he could potentially be a late inning reliever with his power two-seamer.