Matt Thompson Scouting Report (2010)
Matt Thompson is gaining momentum in prospect circles as he currently boasts the most impressive stat line in the Hickory Crawdads four million dollar rotation. After seeing his name pop up on a number of other sites, I figured why not chime in with a game report from a recent start. During his April 26th start versus Savannah, Thompson scattered seven hits over six innings while giving up one earned run. He chipped in seven strikeouts and a lone walk. An impressive start indeed, but does the raw stuff match the impressive peripherals?
Physique and Athleticism – With an ideal pitcher’s frame, Thompson has the thick hips and trunk one looks for in a durable starter. His over-the-top arm action is clean, but limits movement on the fastball. His motion is also easily repeatable which has led to a low walk rate and gives Thompson the ability to pound the black on either side of the plate. While Thompson has plenty going for him, his present size and body type limit his projection physically which keeps him as more of an innings eater.
Mound Presence – In working off of the curveball, Thompson made me a bit uneasy as one generally wants to see a pitcher attack hitters in the “Sally”. However, he spent much of the appearance working off of his curveball which can be viewed as both a good and bad thing. It’s great to see a pitcher at this level who trusts his breaking pitch enough to throw it any count, but it left me wondering if this was a regular occurrence or simply the focus of this particular outing. If this is the norm, it raises the question of whether throwing so many off-speed pitches could affect his ability to build arm strength. Overall, Thompson showed supreme confidence on the mound, and never came close to losing his poise even with runners frequently on base.
Fastball – Thompson’s four-seamer sat 88-90 MPH, topping out at 91. His arm action was free and easy in the upper-80’s, but hitting 90+ required a little extra oomph. In time, continued physical maturation should allow him to consistently work in the 90-91 range. What the pitch lacked in movement, he made up for in location and the ability to move the pitch in and out. For a pitcher like Thompson, added movement to his fastball will make the pitch far more effective than a mile or two on the radar gun. With his over-the-top arm action, I wonder where that movement is going to come from? Until it becomes less hittable, it’s hard to give it more than a borderline average grade. With a GO/AO ratio of better than 2-1 due to a strong curveball, a little sink and fade to Thompson’s fastball would be a huge boon to his prospect status.
Curveball – His best pitch, it had sharp downward action which bordered on “wipeout offering” down in the zone. At 76-78 MPH, Thompson showed enough confidence in the pitch to throw it any count. In setting up hitters, Thompson frequently worked “backwards” using his curveball to set up his fastball. While the pitch raises his overall floor and allows him to dominate the current level of competition, his other offerings are going to be what ultimately determines whether his repertoire is good enough for the rotation long term.
Changeup – Reported to be about average by Jason Parks of BBTIA, I was not able to collect a single radar reading on his changeup in game action as he reportedly threw the pitch just three times. In knowing Thompson’s changeup is his weakest offering, and his being staked to a double-digit run lead early, it would have been a perfect opportunity to focus on the pitch and throw it a number of times. Thompson’s hesitation to incorporate a third offering with a large lead left me wondering how much confidence he has in the pitch? It’s definitely something to monitor going forward and limits his projection in my mind until I receive additional information about the offering.
Overall, Thompson was efficient and put together a strong performance. However, a lack of velocity and quality third offering limits his ceiling. While his numbers are dominant across the board except for his H/IP totals, Thompson reminds me of a number of other pitchers who have graduated the “Sally” only to struggle at the high-A level.
Padres prospect Dexter Carter and Red Sox farmhand Stolmy Pimentel have similar repertoires to Thompson in terms of a relatively flat fastball and curveball which flashes plus. From watching them live and following their subsequent struggles, Thompson has some work to do before I become a buyer.
24 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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