Last year at the trade deadline the Phillies traded Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman for a package of players widely considered to be the building blocks of the next great Phillies team. At the center of the deal were 3 Top 100 prospects in Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, and Jorge Alfaro. At this point it is safe to say that Jared Eickhoff should have been in that conversation. Thompson will be the first of those prospects to reach the majors and will be the first top 100 prospect to reach the majors for the Phillies since Aaron Nola.
It has been a winding journey for Thompson who was originally a second round pick of the Tigers. He has been traded twice since then, and seen his stock go up and down throughout his journey. Over his career Thompson has shown a fastball up to 96, a plus plus slider, and the ability to throw four pitches for strikes. The last of that list is unfortunately the only thing that is currently true, but in many ways it might be the most important thing.
Thompson right now will throw a four and two seam fastball in the 89-94 range. He has good control and will show future average or better command. He mostly works his fastball down to generate ground ball contact. Thompson’s slider at one point was a bit longer than a traditional slider but had sharp two plane movement that missed bats. Right now he will only flash that pitch, especially struggling to throw it for strikes, but it is still an average or slightly above pitch. Thompson will also throw a changeup that is a bit hard and lacks good movement. He finishes off with a curveball that can be a bit long and loopy. Individually his arsenal is not stunning, and he has struggled with missing bats because of it. However, we return to the truth we started with, he throws all his pitches for strikes and even though some pitches are below average he will throw any in any situation. This change of speeds and movement keeps hitters off balance allowing the collective to play above the individual.
The question is then, what is Jake Thompson in the major league? The easy answer is an innings eating back end starter because that is what a player with pitches (2 at least average) and average control is on the chart. Now Thompson is only 22 years old, so it would be silly to think he is a finished product. Thompson is maxed out physically so to think he will add more velocity is a bit of a stretch, yet there is a lot of room for him to grow. The big thing is obviously his slider, but if Thompson can find a good changeup it would help him to keep hitters off balance even more. Then there is fastball command, the foundation of any pitcher, Thompson has some room for growth (his delivery is not clean or simple enough to project perfection). So in the end the answer is that Thompson could be an average pitcher with room to get better, and that is a very valuable thing for the Phillies to add to their major league talent.