Roughriders pitcher Jake Thompson back in town

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, May 23rd, 2015


By Nate Lucas

RoughRiders pitcher Jake Thompson finds himself in a familiar place after a trade sent him to the Texas Rangers organization last season.
“I’m in Double-A, in my hometown. It has a little more of a big league feeling,” said Thompson about the trade to Texas. “It’s a little bit different than playing in Lakeland, Florida.”
The Rangers assigned Thompson to Frisco following the trade last July that sent Joakim Soria to Detroit for Thompson and Corey Knebel.
Thompson grew up just down the road in Rockwall, Texas. He attended Rockwall-Heath High School where he helped bring a 4A state baseball title to the Hawks his senior year in 2012. He finished his senior season with a 12-3 record and a 1.90 ERA, earning him a first-team All-American selection from Baseball America.
Prior to winning the state crown, Thompson was selected in the second round of the MLB June Draft by the Detroit Tigers. He pitched effectively during his time with the Tigers organization, compiling a 6-4 record with a 3.14 ERA with Detroit’s Advanced-A affiliate in Lakeland. He started two games in Double-A with the Erie SeaWolves allowing three runs over 11 innings. Baseball America rated him at the Tiger’s fourth-best prospect.
Now in Texas, Thompson gets a chance to pitch in front of his hometown friends and family.
“I’m always getting beat up for tickets from my buddies,” laughed Thompson.
Thompson finished his 2014 season in Frisco going 3-1 over seven starts. He posted a 3.28 ERA over 35 2/3 innings pitched while striking out 44 batters.
Thompson participated in spring training with the club in Surprise, Arizona and wanted his presence to be felt on and off the field.
“I made it a point to get to know everyone, staff and players,” said Thompson. “I didn’t want to be the guy who didn’t know the Low-A (Hickory) pitching coach was.”
2015 has been a series of peaks and valleys for Thompson. He threw six shutout innings against Arkansas on April 17, and struck out a career-high 12 over seven innings on May 4 at Corpus Christi.
Pitching coach Jeff Andrew’s praised the May 4 start saying, “We’ve been waiting for Jake to hit a groove, and he did a really nice job with his pitch selection, forcing swings and his efficiency was the best it’s been.”
For every groove, there’s been a nick as Thompson was tagged for six earned runs in four inning start on April 23, and lasted just 2/3 of an inning on May 9 against Midland allowing seven runs.
Part of the maturation process is finding consistency and Andrews remains confident in the young right hander.
“He has the ability to really spin the breaking ball, and that’s naturalness for him that a lot of pitchers don’t have,” Andrews continued. “I can certainly understand why our scouts had interest.”
The Rangers hope the Rockwall-native can eventually move from Frisco to Arlington. tabbed Thompson as the eighth-ranked prospect in the Rangers organization saying, “At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Thompson has the build to be a durable starter, and he also possesses the stuff to pitch near the front of a rotation.”
Thompson remains focused on the task at hand while ensuring his progress arrow continuously points up instead of anxiously awaiting his ultimate career goals.
“For me, in the next few months I want to see steady progress,” said Thompson. “I want to take the mound each and every time, and be better at something than I was the time before.”
With a local on the roster, you’ll be sure to hear loud applause and cheers every time Thompson sits down an opposing batter, though eventually, they hope it’s while wearing a Texas Rangers uniform.


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