Player: Lane Thomas
Drafted by: Toronto Blue Jays
DOB: 8/23/1995 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6'1", 180 lbs
School: Bearden HS (Knoxville, Tennessee)
College Commitment: Tennessee
It's hard for a player going to an SEC school who has also performed well in showcase events like the World Wood Bat Association Championships to fly under the radar, but Lane Thomas isn't getting the kind of attention his talent deserves heading into the MLB draft.
He's far from a finished product and needs more polish, which is why college wouldn't be the worst idea, but the Tennessee high school star has tools that project as average across the board and looks like a potential center fielder. He could be one of the great steals in this draft.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Thomas' hitting has always been an asset; contact-oriented approach and some gap power in his swing; bat speed is just average and hip rotation is minimal, so he too often relies on his upper body to drive the ball; sturdy base to work with and solid hand-eye coordination to project as an average hitter.
Even though he's listed at 180 pounds, Thomas looks much smaller; has thin frame but doesn't have the kind of bat speed to really put a charge into the ball; tends to drift out on his front side when swinging, leading to softer contact on fat pitches; power, as much as there is, will be doubles instead of homers.
Plate Discipline: 40/50
Thomas is a patient hitter who isn't going to chase a pitch he doesn't like; at times that gets him in trouble when aggressive pitchers who pound the zone put him behind the eight ball early; ability to track pitches is strong, showing a good eye and an understanding of when to go the opposite way.
The best tool in Thomas' arsenal is the one he was born with: speed; above-average runner who isn't going to win any sprinting contests but knows how to use his legs on the bases and in the field.
Despite lacking plus speed typically found in center fielders, he projects well in center field thanks to above-average instincts and feel for the position; always putting himself where he needs to be, instead of having to make up ground. His routes are also clean and direct.
Thomas has also done some pitching in his high school career, being clocked in the low 90s, giving him more than enough arm strength for center field; could also handle right field on a part-time basis, but his bat doesn't profile well in a corner.
MLB Player Comparison: Alejandro De Aza
Alejandro De Aza doesn't get much attention playing for a mediocre Chicago team and without monster numbers across the board, but he plays a solid center field and is good enough with the bat to hit at the top of the order. That's the kind of player Thomas is going to be. There's nothing fancy about his game, but all the pieces make a solid package.
Projection: Average center fielder on first-division team
MLB ETA: 2017
Chances of Signing: 65%
Due to the lack of polish in his game, as well as some doubts about the hit tool, Thomas would benefit from three years at Tennessee against SEC pitching. He's not going to be a high enough pick to command a massive bonus, but the allure of a low six-figure deal should be enough to get him away from the Volunteers.
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