Jake Thompson has been somewhat of a nomad since being drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2012. Now in Philadelphia, after a string of solid outings, he may finally be knocking on the door of the big league rotation.
The Tigers made the big righty out of Texas a second-round pick in that 2012 MLB Draft. Thompson had an impressive debut at the age of 18 for the GCL Tigers, posting a 1.91 ERA, a 0.87 WHIP and 31 strikeouts over 28.1 innings (seven starts). He had a successful sophomore campaign as well, before the Tigers shipped him off to Texas for Joakim Soria halfway through his third season.
Thompson had a strong half-season debut for the Rangers after the 2014 trade, going 3-1 with a 3.28 ERA and 44 strikeouts over 35.2 innings pitched in Double-A Frisco. Unfortunately, the first half of 2015 was a big step backwards for Thompson.
Until the 2015 season, Thompson had successfully jumped a level each year, and the Rangers had hoped to see a jump to Triple-A. Thompson, however, faltered in Frisco the second time around.
He posted the worst numbers of his young career, recording a 4.72 ERA while striking out 78 in 87.2 innings, the first time in his career he averaged less than a strikeout per inning. After getting hit at a .272 lick and allowing a career-high seven home runs, Thompson was on the move again. This time, he headed to Philadelphia in the blockbuster trade that saw Cole Hamels to Texas and Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff, Alec Asher, Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams head to the City of Brotherly Love.
Thompson took a liking to Pennsylvania as he found his groove again and was lights out down the stretch last season. He went 5-1 over seven starts for Reading (Double-A), posting a 34-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio behind a 1.00 WHIP and a .217 batting average against.
This season has been more of the same for Thompson, as he has been cruising in his first taste of Triple-A action. He hit a few rough outings earlier in the season, but since the calendar flipped to May, the 22-year-old starter has been sharp.
Entering Tuesday evening, his last three outings in particular have been rather impressive. The days of Thompson being a major strikeout artist seem to be behind him in the lower levels of the minor leagues, but he has kept runners at bay. He increased his workload each outing, going six, seven and eight innings, while throwing 93, 102 and 111 pitches respectively, landing 63 percent of his pitches for strikes. Thompson saw his ERA drop from 4.23 to 3.18 and his WHIP fall from 1.30 to 1.19.
Tuesday was another dandy, as Thompson went eight strong, allowing just two runs while striking out two and walking one. He now sits at 6-5 on the season, having not lost in June while getting his ERA down to a very respectable 3.09; he’s allowed just three earned runs over his last 29 innings. He has just 59 strikeouts on the season though while walking roughly 2.6 batters a game.
Watch video footage and get analysis of Thompson’s four-pitch arsenal, as well as insight on why his promotion should be imminent, by clicking on the link below for my full article at Today’s Knuckleball: