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2018 Red Sox top prospect voting: Jake Thompson prepares for his first full season

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He could be a riser through the ranks over the next 12 months

Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor; sittingstill.smugmug.com

If the Red Sox are going to get their farm system out of the bottom-third of the league’s ranks, they are going to need to find some success stories from this past summer’s draft. We’ve already had three 2017 draftees on our rankings to this point, and now we can add a fourth in Jake Thompson. The righty won a relatively easy vote this time around narrowing out a couple of relative professional veterans to take the number 15 spot on our community rankings.

Thompson was an intriguing name heading into draft season after a strong senior season at Oregon State, one of the nation’s top programs. After a few middling years to start his college career, he put it together to the tune of a 1.52 ERA with 113 strikeouts and 36 walks over 118 innings of work. That season was enough to solidify himself as a relatively early pick in last summer’s draft, and the Red Sox grabbed him in the fourth round with the 131st overall pick. Is is often the case for pitchers who need time to adjust to professional training regimens and the grind of that kind of season, Boston took it easy with Thompson in his initial exposure to the professional game. He was unsurprisingly placed in Lowell to start his career and he made seven starts at the level, though he wasn’t allowed to go deep into any of them. He tallied only 11 13 innings over those seven starts and was understandably inconsistent. By the end of the year he had pitched to a solid 3.18 ERA with 11 strikeouts and six walks over that time. The stuff was solid but the command was iffy, though again we were dealing with a super small sample size.

Photo Credit: Kelly O’Connor; sittingstill.smugmug.com

Since we can’t really go much off the numbers at this point in his career, it’s all about the scouting report with Thompson. He doesn’t project to be a future star or anything, but there are reasons to be excited about the righty. He entered his senior year with a more refined delivery that led to more scouts believing he could ultimately stick as a starter, as it had long been assumed he’d be a reliever if he made it to the highest level. Thompson brings a big fastball to the table that can sit in the mid-90s and reaches as high as 98. He pairs that with a really intriguing slider that could develop into a legitimate out pitch and a changeup that needs some work and could be the difference between a career in the rotation or an ultimate relief role. There’s also the issue of command, of course, and his ability to control the strike zone will be the biggest thing to look for in the year ahead.

Speaking of the coming 2018 season, Thompson will certainly be an intriguing name to watch as he has the potential to move into the top ten with relative ease, but it’s also worth mentioning that he is older than your typical recent draftee. The Oregon State product was redshirted his first year in college and turned 23 in September. That’s not a horrible thing by any stretch, but it does mean the team likely won’t be super patient in letting him figure things out as a starter. It’s not hard to envision a rough 2018 leading to him transitioning to the bullpen as a 24-year-old. That’s down the line, though. In the coming year I’d imagine the Red Sox will be conservative and start Thompson in Greenville, though he could be a relatively quick riser and see Salem by the middle of the season if everything goes well.

Here’s our list so far:

  1. Jason Groome
  2. Michael Chavis
  3. Tanner Houck
  4. Bryan Mata
  5. Jalen Beeks
  6. Alex Scherff
  7. Sam Travis
  8. Mike Shawaryn
  9. Brian Johnson
  10. Josh Ockimey
  11. Cole Brannen
  12. Bobby Dalbec
  13. Darwinzon Hernandez
  14. C.J. Chatham
  15. Jake Thompson

Now, we move on to the sixteenth spot on our list. As always, head down into the comments and “rec” the comment corresponding the player for whom you’d like to vote. Make sure you’re a member of the blog before you do so of course. Additionally, if there is a player you’d like to vote for who is not listed, leave a comment of your own saying “Vote for Player X here”. That comment will count as his first vote. For more information on this system, scroll to the bottom of this post. Until next time...