Tag Archives: Jake Thompson

Jake Thompson dealt by Phillies to Milwaukee Brewers

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Jake Thompson dealt from Phillies to Milwaukee Brewers

The Philadelphia Phillies “traded” pitcher Jake Thompson to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday. 

In exchange the Phillies received…cash. Not an intriguing prospect named “Cash”, just plain cash, as in money.
In effect, the Phillies sold Thompson to a National League Wildcard playoff rival. There is no other way to color this transaction than the Phillies giving up on Thompson.
Though details on the exact “why” were not announced, the likelihood is that the Brewers claimed Thompson after the Phillies designated him for assignment on Friday. That move was done in order to make room on the roster for the newly acquired Justin Bour.
With the claim, the Phillies would have three choices. Pull him back and DFA someone else. Let him go to the Brewers for nothing. Or cut some type of deal with Milwaukee.
GM Matt Klentak was obviously offered some amount of cash that he felt comfortable receiving back from Brew Crew GM David Stearns in order to surrender Thompson.
All of this begs the question, why Thompson? Why did the Phillies choose to DFA a 24-year-old pitcher who in seven minor league seasons has surrendered fewer hits than innings pitched, has produced a 3.55 ERA over 669 innings, and who just two years ago was the 2016 International League Most Valuable Pitcher?
There were other options. The club could have chosen to DFA someone like Mitch Walding, a soon-to-be 26-year-old. Walding is enjoying a nice season with the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs. However, he is nowhere to be found on any list or discussion of top Phillies prospects. He is an “organizational” guy available for positional depth at best.
The club could have chosen from a number of other similar pitchers rather than Thompson. Right-handers Ben LivelyMark Leiter Jr, Yacksel Rios, and Drew Anderson. Lefties Adam Morgan or Jose Taveras.
These would have been the other candidates. You can make a legitimate argument that none has higher upside than Thompson. It’s hard to see any reason that Taveras was kept over Thompson other than the age-old baseball love for left-handed pitchers of nearly any skill level.
If you’re wondering whether the Phillies could have chosen to DFA catcher Andrew Knapp, the answer is both yes and no. The backup backstop turns 27-years-old in early November and has slashed .217/.310/.354 while demonstrating questionable defensive ability at best behind the plate.
However, with Wilson Ramos still on the DL at the time that the Bour move needed to be made, Knapp and Jorge Alfaro were the lone catchers on the 40-man roster. There is no way that you can play with just one legitimate catcher. So, while results and upside might mean Knapp could go, short-term practicality meant that he could not.
None of this is to say that Thompson didn’t have his own issues, command and control chief among them. With the Phillies, Thompson had allowed 4.7 walks for every nine innings pitched. Over 16.1 innings with the big club this season that BB/9 average was at the unsightly 6.1 mark.
His minor league record reveals just a 3.2 BB/9 figure over 144 games, 118 of those starts. However, this year his 5.0 mark revealed regression. Perhaps the Phillies simply didn’t think that he was fixable.
There is also always the possibility that some situation was going on behind the scenes to which we aren’t privy. Some personal or disciplinary problem. But that would be nothing more than pure speculation.
What we do know is that the Phillies now have given up on half the return which they received from the Texas Rangers in the Cole Hamels trade three years ago.
Thompson was considered a big part of that deal at the time. He had been the Detroit Tigers second round pick in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft out of a Texas high school. Detroit dealt him along with Corey Knebel at the approach of the 2014 trade deadline to the Rangers in exchange for reliever Joakim Soria.
Almost exactly two years ago at this time, Thompson was making just his second MLB start. In earning his first big league win with a five-inning effort against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park he also made a little Phillies history.
Thompson struck out four Rockies batters in the second inning of that contest. In doing so he became the first Phillies pitcher ever and the 80th in MLB history to accomplish the feat.
Also gone from the Hamels deal is lefty pitcher Matt Harrison, who was never going to pitch for the Phillies. He had career-ending injury issues that the club new about at the time of the trade, and his inclusion was simply the Phillies taking on a contract in order to obtain a better prospect package.
Right-handed pitcher Alec Asher was basically given away to the Baltimore Orioles. He was dealt at the end of spring training in 2017 for cash considerations or a player to be named later who was never named. Odds are that some small amount of cash was passed between the two organizations.
Remaining with the Phillies are the current starting right fielder Nick Williams, starting catcher (for the time being) Jorge Alfaro, and injured pitcher Jerad Eickhoff.
The Phillies are not likely to miss Thompson very much in the long run. That they felt capable of giving up on a talented pitcher who still projects to have some upside says something positive about the state of the organizational pitching options.

Finally emerging as an everyday starter, Nick Williams catches fire with Phillies

Williams finally breaking out as an everyday player
Former Phillies 2008 World Series hero Cole Hamels was traded last night for the second time in three years. 
The now 34-year-old lefty went from the Texas Rangers to the Chicago Cubs for a couple of lightly regarded prospects in what was more of a salary dump by Texas than anything else.
It was a far different deal than the one that went down at this time three years ago. On July 31, 2015 the Phillies sent their popular star pitcher to Texas in exchange for a huge six-prospect package. The package that Hamels was able to fetch at that time was filled with highly-rated youngsters to help bolster the rebuilding Phillies minor league system.
The return to the Phillies included prospect arms Jake ThompsonJerad Eickhoff, and Alec Asher. The Phillies also picked up their current starting catcher, Jorge Alfaro, in that deal.
Acquiring such a large and attractive group of young talent was made possible in part because the Phillies also provided salary relief to Texas. They did so by taking on the contract of injured veteran pitcher Matt Harrison, who would never throw an inning in a Phillies uniform. Harrison’s contract hung a $30 million price tag on that package.
The final player acquired in that big haul was a then 21-year-old outfielder named Nick Williams. Full of promise, Williams had been the Rangers second round choice in the 2012 MLB Draft out of Ball High School in Galveston, Texas.
Williams spent the next couple of years following the trade by rising through the Phillies farm system. He spent the last few weeks of 2015 with AA Reading, then the entirety of the 2016 and start of the 2017 seasons at AAA Lehigh Valley.
A solid 2016 campaign in which Williams banged 33 doubles and 13 home runs seemed to be positioning him for a big league promotion with a floundering Phillies team. However, questions began to arise regarding his hustle and attitude.
During that season, each of the other prospects obtained in the Hamels deal spent time at the MLB level. Williams was the only one left behind, and he didn’t take it well. But to his credit, he would eventually learn and grow from the experience.
Prior to the opening of spring training in 2017, Williams was quoted by Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“All of the guys that I was traded with ended up in the big leagues except me. But I realize that they were ready and I wasn’t. Last year was a huge learning experience for me — new organization, going to Triple A — and I did some dumb things, some immature things. I got benched for not running out a ball. I look back and I might have thought it was harsh, but it was my fault. I should have run the ball out. That’s what I call not respecting the game. It sucked, but I had to take the punishment. I did it. It was my fault.”

Williams began the 2017 season back with the IronPigs, but also with renewed energy and a sense of purpose. On June 30 it paid off with his own first promotion and taste of the big-league lifestyle. He has been with the Phillies from that point onward.
Entering his first full season in Major League Baseball this spring, it was expected that the lefty-swinging Williams would spend much of the year platooning in right field with the right-handed bat of Aaron Altherr. That was how it went for the better part of three months. There was even a stretch early on where Williams struggled and was briefly benched.
Altherr would end up struggling much more, and was ultimately sent back to the minors last week. This has left Williams as an everyday starter for the first time in his big league career. He seems to be making the most of this opportunity.
Last night, Williams was one of three hitters (Rhys Hoskins and Maikel Franco were the others) to bang a pair of home runs as the Phillies tied a club record with seven dingers. Those blasts powered the team to a 9-4 victory over the host Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

“It feels like we’re kids at recess right now,” Williams said per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki following the outburst.
Per Zolecki, Statcast™ estimated that Williams’ home run in the ninth inning left the bat at 109.7mph and traveled a projected 431 feet. That made it the hardest and longest of the barrage of long balls driven out last night.
For Williams it was the continuation of what appears to be a genuine breakout. In a span of 35 games since June 14, the now 24-year-old has hit for a .308/.399/.533 slash, blasting seven homers and driving in 22 runs over his last 138 plate appearances.
As the Phillies approach the MLB non-waiver trade deadline there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding players that the team might try to add. But now many of the most hotly rumored names –Hamels, Manny MachadoZach BrittonJ.A. Happ – have been taken off the board.The Phillies have also been heavily linked to a few more bats. The most prominent name in recent days has been veteran Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones.
If the club is to bring in any outfielder in the coming days, odds are that it will be with the understanding that he is going to come off the bench for the most part. Right now, the Phillies outfield of Hoskins, Williams, and Odubel Herrera is producing.
If this indeed proves to be a true sustainable breakout by Williams, he will become a fixture in the starting lineup, and a key piece to this emerging playoff contender.
ORIGINALLY published at Phillies Nation as “Nick Williams may be breaking out for Phillies just in the nick of time

Phillies back in the lead in Manny Machado sweepstakes

Ken Rosenthal reports Phillies have upped Machado offer
The roller-coaster saga that is the Manny Machado sweepstakes appears to have taken another wild turn, this time back in the Philadelphia Phillies favor.
On Friday afternoon, MLB insider Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeted out that the Phillies “have increased their offer” for Machado. The information came to him from “sources”, and few in the business have more, or more reliable, than Rosenthal.

#Phillies have increased their offer for #Orioles’ Machado, sources tell The Athletic. #Dodgers and #Yankees remain strongest. #Brewers fading, #DBacks on periphery.
Standard caveat applies: Trade talks are fluid, and one text or call can change dynamic of discussions.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 13, 2018

Immediately following Rosenthal’s message, Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors speculated as to the pieces that could be in play from a Phillies perspective.

“Suffice it to say, there are plenty of moving parts on the Machado front. Baltimore has been said to be keen on acquiring controllable starting pitching, and the Phillies have plenty of options in that regard, as do the Brewers, Yankees and Dodgers.

It’s not yet clear what, precisely, the Phillies (or any team) is willing to offer up, though the Phils have intriguing young rotation pieces in the form of Zach Eflin and Enyel De Los Santos, each of whom has already pitched in the Majors this season (extensively so, in Eflin’s case). Right-handers Sixto Sanchez and Adonis Medina are each considered to be among the game’s top 75 or so prospects, and the Phils have a number of MLB-ready back-of-the-rotation options on the 40-man roster who could be secondary pieces (e.g. Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, Drew Anderson, Mark Leiter Jr.)”

In a piece just yesterday, another major baseball insider, Jon Heyman of Fancfred Sports, said that the Phillies were suffering from “too much timidity” in handling Machado negotiations with the Baltimore Orioles.
After lauding the club for bursting into contender status this year, he also expounded on their need to bring in a player with Machado’s impact. In doing so, he compared the Phillies situation to that of the recent Sixers pursuit of LeBron James:

“They may just be playing the game, but based on the snippets heard so far, they sound a little too much like another Philly team, a particular NBA franchise that resides across the street. Perhaps they are too married to a process, a little too mechanical.”

UPDATE: Rosenthal and Heyman each followed up with tweets in the late afternoon on Friday:

#Orioles have ramped up background work on #Phillies prospects, responding to Phils’ increased interest in Machado, sources tell The Athletic. Phils won’t move RHP Sixto Sanchez but are willing to trade from SP depth from Low A to AAA. RHP Adonis Medina of interest to O’s.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 13, 2018

Phillies are said to be making some progress in Manny talks with O’s. Machado is a great fit, and Phils people know MM best (after the Orioles). Plus, word is Phils owner Middleton is thought to want to “make a splash.”
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 13, 2018

If the latest report from Rosenthal is on target, then it appears Matt Klentak and his management team with the Phillies may be loosening up. The fact remains that based on their own needs and desires, and both their financial and prospect situations, the Phillies will remain major contenders for Machado unless or until he is dealt elsewhere.

Bullpen becoming a strength for the Phillies

Seranthony Dominguez (R) has strengthened the ‘pen
The Philadelphia Phillies dropped a 3-0 heartbreaker on Wednesday night at Citi Field. The host New York Mets won it on a two-out, pinch-hit, three-run home run from Brandon Nimmo off Phillies reliever Mark Leiter Jr to gain a split of the four-game series between the division rivals.
For some Phillies fans, this might seem like just another in a string of games blown by the bullpen. The relief corps has been much maligned this season. Some of the individual pitchers have certainly deserved the criticism at times.
What those same fans may not have noticed is that the Phillies bullpen has been extremely effective since the calendar turned to July. 
Frankly, games like last night’s are going to happen to almost every team over the course of a long 162-game season. However, a look at the statistics shows that the Phillies bullpen may be turning into a strength.
Here are the numbers put up by the various Phillies relief pitchers, beginning with games of July 1:
As you can tell from Leiter’s figures, this was the bullpen performance up until the time he stepped on to the mound last night. Prior to that appearance, Phillies relief pitchers had a cumulative 1.06 ERA during the month of July.
In fact, it looked as if Leiter was going to continue that excellence when the inning began. He retired the first two Mets batters to start the frame.
After a two-out double by Amed Rosario, the Phillies right-hander got to 3-2 on Jose Reyes. But the veteran Mets hitter layed off a low-and-away changeup, drawing a free pass to set-up Nimmo’s walkoff heroics.
Yes, if you want to get technical, as well as to generalize, “the bullpen blew it” last night. But the Phillies relief pitchers have actually been helping this team as the dog days of summer have begun.
Even though the offense has managed just four or fewer runs in eight of the 10 games this month, the club has gone 7-3. That improved work from the bullpen has been an important factor.

Nick Williams promoted to big leagues by Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies are promoting outfield prospect Nick Williams for his first big league opportunity this weekend.
The promotion for Williams comes as a direct response to left fielder Howie Kendrick being placed on the Disabled List. The hamstring injury disables the nearly 34-year old for a second time already this season. Kendrick previously was out of the lineup from mid-April through the end of May.
The Phillies also recently released outfielder Michael Saunders. A legitimate argument can be made that the additions of Saunders and Kendrick this past off-season were wastes of time and money.
However, others will say that the two signings did the job. The veterans bought a couple of months while prospects such as Williams “percolated” in the minor leagues. That may turn out to be the case in the long run. Time will tell.
For now, extremely frustrated Phillies fans will get to watch one of the hyped prospects perform each night.
Williams came to the Phils from the Texas Rangers as part of the big Cole Hamels trade back in the summer of 2015. He becomes the fifth piece of that trade to reach the big leagues. Alec AsherJerad EickhoffJorge Alfaro, and Jake Thompson have previously made their debut from that deal.
At the time of his promotion, Williams was hitting for a .277/.326/.511 slash line for the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The 23-year old ripped 15 homers and had 33 extra-base hits. He produced 44 rbi, and scored 43 runs in 302 plate appearances this season. Williams also has five stolen bases.

INCREASED MATURITY LEADS TO MEASURABLE RESULTS

There was an opportunity last season for Williams to force his way into the big league picture. However, the lefty hitter struggled in the minors. Maturity issues played a big part in his troubles.
But this season, Williams has demonstrated increased maturity in every facet of his game and attitude. That was demonstrated in a game earlier this month. He quickly snapped out of a brief funk that would have turned into a major slump a year ago.
IronPigs manager Dusty Wathan was quoted by Tom Housenick of The Morning Call after that June 11 game:
“Once he matured and learned that it doesn’t do him any good to make excuses, … that’s where he’s at now. He got another opportunity and said, ‘let’s do something about it.’ We’ve seen a lot of that lately. His first two at-bats weren’t great. In the past, there’s an 0-for-4. Instead, he turned it around and got two big hits.”
Williams will not be expected to become a savior for this current Phillies team. He cannot turn around this miserable 2017 season on his own.
What Williams does represent to long-suffering Phillies fans is hope. It marks another step forward in the rebuilding program. Hopefully he experiences some immediate and then sustained success. And hopefully his promotion is just the first of a few in the coming weeks.