Trayce Thompson was an interesting name for the Chicago White Sox this spring.
He is a 24 year-old prospect with power, speed and the ability to play all three outfield positions. He is also the younger brother of NBA player Klay Thompson.
That’s the positives.
The negatives are his inability thus far to hit for average (career .240 hitter in seven minor league seasons) and a high strikeout rate (strikes out 27% of the time he comes to the plate).
Those negatives were what the White Sox had to consider in Spring Training when trying to determine who should be the team’s fifth outfielder on the opening day roster.
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The spot would end up going to J.B. Shuck and Thompson would begin his season at Charlotte (AAA). The move looks to be paying off early as Thompson is off to a torrid start.
In the 20 games he played in April, Thompson hit .325/.361/.545 with two home runs, 10 RBIs and 13 runs scored. He has also matched his offense with strong defense in center field making plays like in the video below look easy.
The strikeouts are still there too (21 K’s in 20 games) but as long as Thompson is producing, they can be overlooked.
Thompson is one of many players who are tearing it up for the International South division leading Charlotte Knights. Even if he doesn’t maintain his current pace offensively, he is still likely to be the first player to be called up to the majors if an injury occurs to an outfielder.
Mar 4, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox first baseman Dan Black against the Los Angeles Dodgers during a spring training baseball game at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Another player who is hitting everything in sight is first baseman, Dan Black.
Last season Black reached Triple A for the first time at age 26 and was immediately looking up to Andy Wilkins, a fellow first baseman who was a year younger and having the best season of any hitter in the organization not named Jose Abreu.
In the offseason, the White Sox chose not to promote Wilkins and instead sign Adam LaRoche as the everyday DH and secondary option at first to Abreu. The move sealed Wilkins’ fate as he would later be waived and claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Wilkins’ exit opened the door for Black and he has certainly made the most of his opportunity.
In 14 games in April, the 27 year old switch hitting slugger hit .378/.473/.733 with four home runs, 13 RBIs and nine walks.
Black, 27, has a bit more of a successful track record at the plate in the minors than Thompson.
He is a career .285 hitter and has three seasons of at least 17 home runs and 80 RBIs. That consistency would lead me to believe Black is the first option for the White Sox to turn to if Jose Abreu or Adam LaRoche have to spend any time on the disabled list this season.