11. Aaron Thompson - LHP - 6'3 - 195lbs
(last year: 3)
Aaron Thompson was taken with the 22nd overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Marlins. He was awarded with a $1.225mil bonus. Most believed he would be a tough sign because he had committed to Texas A&M early on, but things changed once the Aggies fired their coaching staff, and Aaron then signed with the Fish. After struggling in his first couple of professional outings, he came back strong in his Jamestown campaign with a 3.10era in just over 20 innings. The 6'3 left-hander spent the 2006 season at low-A Greensboro and showed much promise in what is considered a hitter friendly league. Thompson went 8-8 with a 3.63era and a 1.30whip in 134 innings of work. The longball was a bit of a problem as he gave up 12, but he did strikeout 114 compared to just 35 walks. 2007 was a minor breakout for him. Aaron battled with shoulder tendonitis early on but still went 4-6 with a 3.37era and a 1.36whip in 115 innings of work in high-A Jupiter. He gave up just 2 homeruns, while walking 35 and striking out 84. What was most impressive from his 2007 performance was his consistency from month to month. Besides June where he had a 4.05era, his era in every other month was 3.67 or better.
Thompson took a major step backwards in 2008 while in Carolina. He dealt with injuries much of the year and when he was healthy he showed little command. His strikeouts plummeted and he gave up well over a hit per inning. Like many finesse left-handers, Thompson has garnered plenty of comparisons to Tom Glavine. Thompson’s fastball sits at 89-91mph and his three secondary pitches, changeup, curveball and slider, are all solid. His curveball has the most potential out of those pitches. All four of his pitches have the potential to be (or are already) plus pitches. Aaron has shown good poise, savvy and competitiveness on the mound. He also showed a much improved pick-off move at first base, and was good at holding runners. He has a projectile frame, and should add strength and muscle in the near future. With this added strength, his pitches should have improved velocity as well.
Most would say that Thompson is near his ceiling as a #3 or 4 starter. I believe with the improvement of all four of his pitches, his ceiling is much closer to being a #2 than in being a #4. He's about as developed as much as a 21 year old can be and he will spend much, if not all of the 2009 season in Triple A New Orleans. This is an important season for Aaron has he needs to rebound of a terrible 2008. If he can turn things around, he could have a shot at a starting rotation spot in 2010. If he continues to struggle, he could end up in the bullpen sooner than later.