West Michigan’s Jake Thompson pitches againt the Dayton Dragons on June 27, 2013. Photo by Matt Snyder
I had the opportunity to make it to Fifth Third Ballpark on Thursday night for my first look at Detroit Tigers’ starting pitching prospect Jake Thompson. He ended up throwing five innings of scoreless ball, allowed four hits, didn’t walk a batter, and struck out three.
There were rumors floating around that Thompson’s velocity had been down some between the end of last season and this spring, so I came into the game with lowered expectations, but his velocity looked fine (according to the stadium gun, so take that for what it’s worth). Thompson sat at mostly 92 mph with the fastball in the first couple of innings, hitting 95 a handful of times, and ended up at 90-91 in the fourth and fifth innings. It wasn’t overpowering veolocity, but I was pleased with what I saw. Definitely seemed closer to the draft reports than the “stuff might be down reports” that had been trickling out when he was kept at extended spring training this April.
Jake got most of his swings and misses on his curveball. I didn’t have a great angle to see the action on his pitches (or even really distinguish the curve from the change every time), but he seemed to be able to both (1) get hitters to chase it (i.e. the curve) low out of the zone and (2) throw it for a strike.
The only negative I came away with, if you could call it that, was that Thompson was perhaps overly reliant on his off-speed stuff in the later innings. I don’t know if it was fatigue or whatever, and he was still getting hitters out, but he was probably throwing fewer than 50% fastballs in the fifth inning. (That was my perception anyway; I didn’t chart pitches or anything).