Since Trayce Thompson was drafted he has been noted for his upside, talent and athletic ability. His performance, however, hasn’t always lived up to that. That may be shifting.
Like many players that signed out of high school, Thompson was raw and many expected him to struggle early in his pro career. For the most part that was true. He posted a .510 OPS in rookie ball in 118 plate appearances in 2009. The following year he showed some good power, but he hit .229 and suffered a broken hand that shorted his season to just 58 games.
Thompson began to show some progress in 2011 with 24 home runs, but had a whopping 172 strikeouts. Doubts about his game were prevalent, but moving to a hitters’ ballpark in Winston-Salem in 2012 seemed like a breeding grounds for a breakout season.
It took a couple months, but that breakout season happened. Thompson showed good power in April and May, but was hitting .212 and had racked up 68 strikeouts. Then he caught fire in June and started hitting balls out of the park at a rampant pace.
Since June began Thompson hit .285 with 16 homers for the Dash. This has been the most extended hot streak of his career and ushered in a surprise promotion to AA Birmingham. With the Dash headed for the Carolina League playoffs it appeared Thompson had a reason to finish the season there. The Barons headed into Thursday’s action in third place, four games out, with 18 games remaining so they could make the postseason, but they’re going to have to get hot.
Having the powerful outfielder transition into a big park in Birmingham will be a test. However, he showed in 11 August games with the Dash that he’s capable of playing well for a stretch without relying on power. Thompson was 16-45 (.356) in 11 August games with the Dash before his promotion.
An interesting trend is that he drew 26 walks in his first 50 games, but as his performance increased his walks went down. Thompson has 19 walks in 68 games since.
Overall, Thompson is one of the best prospects in the system. His massive power, ability to draw a walk, athleticism and quality defense in centerfield should have White Sox fans excited if he can start hitting for contact consistently. His AA promotion might even mean he’ll make an appearance in the Arizona Fall League so we could be tracking him for a bit longer this season.