Jake Thompson: Key “Get” In The Joakim Soria Deal
The key piece of a substantial deal for Tigers closer Joakim Soria (predicted here at ROTOscouting) 22-year old Texas Rangers pitching prospect Jake Thompson has become a name of much intrigue in 2014. The current Frisco RoughRider has enjoyed a fantastic season, posting a 2.90 ERA while striking out nearly a batter per inning across High-A and Double-A at 20. Is he a future rotation stalwart for a big league club in need of healthy arms?
Listed at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Jake Thompson has a prototypical pitcher’s frame. The weight listing is generous as Thompson has shed pounds since his Rockwall, Texas high-school days. He has room to fill out with another 10-15 pounds of muscle. Thompson’s body is built to withstand the rigors of a major league season.
Jake Thompson has an active delivery. When using a full windup, the right-hander starts with his hands chest-high before raising the glove over his head as the left foot steps back. The top-10 Rangers prospect then raises his leg to his chest while tucking the front foot under the raised leg as a timing mechanism before driving forward.
At the point of release, Thompson’s legs are extended, allowing him to maximize downhill plane. This allows for potential added velocity as well should the 2nd round pick utilize leg drive through the release point.
Excessive movement in the delivery causes issues with control and command. Thompson’s follow through is also messy due to a cross-body delivery and arm whip. This leads to shoulder and elbow issues as the constant cross-body stretching creates added stress on the ligaments
The 2014 Futures Game selection features a fastball which sits at 92-94 mph, touching 96. The pitch features life including arm-side movement and late sink which is maintained when pitching up in the zone. As the game enters the middle innings, Jake Thompson’s velocity dips a couple of mph. Control and command of the fastball is a work in progress, as it’s left belt high too often. Too often, he misses the strike zone entirely. Despite shoddy locales, it is rare for a Thompson heater to be barreled.
Jake Thompson’s best pitch is his slider. The pitch boasts two-plane break and projects as a swing-and-miss offering at the MLB level. When throwing the slider for a strike, Thompson will start the ball at the hitter and it will cut hard to the outer half. When in need of a strikeout, he will start over the heart of the plate and run it to the left-handed batter’s box. The slider is the pitch Thompson controls and commands the best of any in his arsenal. At 85-87 mph, the pitch pushes plus-plus and is the best breaking ball scouted in Frisco in 2014.
While the fastball and slider project as excellent pitches, Jake Thompson’s change-up and curveball are along for the ride at this point. The change-up features early break and sits less than five mph below the fastball. The curve also breaks early and presents as “loopy” while lacking sharpness.
Change-ups are often the final pitch to develop in a young pitcher’s repertoire, and is the more promising of the two. For Thompson to reach his ceiling of a number two starter, one of the two off-speed options needs to develop into a solid average offering. If neither does, Thompson has the potential to work out of the back end of the Rangers bullpen and competes with Corey Knebel and Keone Kela (Scouting Report) for Rangers closer of the future.
Tool Present Future Projected Role #3/4 starter on first division team. Fastball 55 60 Slider 60 70 Changeup 30 45 Curveball 30 40 Control 35 45 Command 30 40
Owning Jake Thompson
Big-framed pitchers with hard fastballs and a plus breaking pitch make fantasy baseball owners swoon. After being dealt to the Rangers, Thompson’s value is peaking and dynasty league owners will be forced to buy high unless he’s still available on the waiver wire. With Texas’s rotation in shambles, his owners are likely to point to opportunity and shoot the moon. Remember, Luke Jackson (Scouting Report) and “Chi Chi” Gonzalez (Scouting Report) are ahead of him on the organizational depth chart.
Take a more tempered approach to acquiring Thompson with the understanding Texas’ home ballpark is difficult on young arms. Plus, what was once a weak hitting division now sees the Athletics and Angels loaded up with bats. For Jake Thompson, this means early struggles. Wait for the right-hander and shoe in top-100 prospect to take a few lumps before striking up a deal and bring the price down. — Mike Newman
18 Aug 2014 / Grant Schiller / 5
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