Last week I did a Daily Prospect Profile on Aaron Thompson, after a successful outing in AAA. I’ve seen Thompson twice this year, both with Altoona, and had this to say about his performance and future:
I saw Thompson twice early in the season with Altoona. His former 90-91 MPH fastball that touched 93 was gone. Instead his top speed was in the 89-90 MPH range. Thompson wasn’t as bad as his numbers suggested in the two starts I saw (10 IP, 4 ER, 13 H, 10:3 K/BB ratio). In the first outing he started off with five shutout innings, before falling apart in the sixth. In the second outing he only ran in to trouble in the third inning due to poor defense. But I wouldn’t say Thompson was dominant in either outing. His upside looks more like a middle reliever in the Tony Watson mold, although I would rate Watson higher due to his success in AA, and his ability to work in the low-90s with his fastball. However, I’d doubt that upside will be seen with the Pirates, as Thompson is down on the depth charts as far as left handers go, falling behind Watson, Justin Wilson, and Daniel Moskos in the upper levels.
Thompson is expected to get the call to start tonight for the Pittsburgh Pirates, which is more due to necessity than his performance in a limited amount of innings at the AAA level. The Pirates need a starter to make one start, and Thompson was in Pittsburgh yesterday, with a spot open on the 40-man roster. He’s shown success in a limited amount of innings in AAA, but his high-80s fastball probably won’t lead to much success in a major league spot start.
As I mentioned, I see Thompson more as a reliever in the majors, and I’d probably place him fourth out of the Pirates’ options in AAA and the majors. Best case scenario, he can be the left handed version of Jeff Karstens, although Karstens is more the exception than the rule when it comes to players having success with an upper 80s velocity (not to mention it’s too early to chalk him up as a success).