Phillies to Debut Jake Thompson on Saturday
By Matt Veasey
The Philadelphia Phillies will promote their top pitching prospect to make his big league debut this coming weekend.
Following a tough extra-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants on Thursday afternoon, Phillies manager Peter Mackanin officially announced that the club’s top pitching prospect will make his big league debut on Saturday.
It has been widely speculated that Jake Thompson would debut on Monday, since the Phillies had already announced their starting weekend pitching rotation.
However, Friday night would be Thompson’s normal rotation day, and so the Phillies likely decided to keep everyone as close to their normal spot as possible.
Thompson was one of the lead pieces coming over from the Texas Rangers in last season’s trade deadline deal of ace Cole Hamels.
The 22-year old right-hander was the 2nd round choice of the Detroit Tigers back in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft out of a Texas high school.
At the trade deadline two years ago, Thompson was dealt by the Tigers to the Rangers along with Corey Knebel in exchange for reliever Joakim Soria.
Thompson has made a nice, steady progression up the minor league ladder in incremental fashion across the three organizations.
This season with the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Thompson put together an 11-5 record with a 2.50 ERA and 1.095 WHIP. He allowed 105 hits over 129.2 innings with an 87/37 K:BB ratio.
As you can see from his 6.0 K/9 rate, Thompson is not necessarily a big strikeout pitcher despite having a good fastball. What he does possess is a wipeout slider that will get big league hitters swinging, or will get them pounding it into the ground.
At 6’4, 235 pounds, Thompson is built to last. He projects as a durable, innings eating #2 starter in a big league rotation in his prime, and should slot in perfectly with the young starters already here in the current rotation.
For Phillies fans who have been chomping at the bit to see him with the big club, it is indeed a time to get excited. However, temper those expectations. This is not the next Roger Clemens or Curt Schilling.
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What he will be is a nice replacement for Aaron Nola, allowing the Phillies to not miss a beat as the season winds through the final 7-8 weeks and they look to show continued improvement over last year’s bottom-dwelling campaign.
Thompson also is another step towards the future. The Phillies rotation will now move forward as Jeremy Hellickson, Thompson, Jerad Eickhoff, Zach Eflin, and Vincent Velasquez in that order.
There is still a chance, especially as September arrives, that the Phillies could consider moving to a six-man rotation in an effort to cut off the innings totals for some of the younger arms.
If the team does indeed need to, or decide to, go to another starter at some point, that pitcher would likely come from among Adam Morgan, Phil Klein, David Buchanan, or even another rookie, Ben Lively.