Former first round pick Aaron Thompson is off to strong start at Double-A Jacksonville for the Marlins. Thompson is a product of the 2005 draft, one of the best draft classes in recent memory. Thompson hasn't garnered as much attention as others. The Marlins alone had five first round picks in the 2005 draft, and two of three already have major league service time. Thompson owns a career 4.01 minor league ERA since signing with the Marlins in 2005, and scouts like his competitive nature and how he sets up the count.
One of his fellow draftees, Chris Volstad, is 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA in six starts this season. He has held hitters to just a .192 batting average and has 32 strikeouts. The Marlins awarded Volstad with a call up in early July, and Thompson happen to be in the area rehabbing and made it out to the game. "Can't help but be jealous," Thompson said, "but it made me want [to be here] more." Volstad and Thompson were roommates all the way up the system, starting in rookie ball all the way up through Double-A.
Making the jump from the amateur level to the professional level can have adverse effects on a player. A gifted pitcher who throws 95 in high school may not necessarily know how to set up a hitter, and he'll need to do that in order to get out professional hitters. Thompson is no exception. Thompson has been working to develop his secondary pitches so that he is more confident in approaching hitters. "It is the mindset," Thompson said, "how to read a situation and how to pitch instead of just throwing. When the game changes, I need to change [my approach] and make quick judgements."
Thompson's journey through the minor leagues hit a roadblock when he dealt with shoulder issues last year. Yet, the Marlins awarded his strong play by sending him to the Arizona Fall League. Thompson, who has pitched almost exclusively as a starter, worked primarily out of the bullpen. "I made adjustments out of the bullpen so now I could pitch in the bullpen if needed." The versatility he now brings to the Marlins could get him a ticket to Miami sooner than expected.
This story was approved by MLB Rumors.