Yesterday Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, and Mike Rosenbaum all co-authored an article on MLB.com list listing a breakout prospect for each MLB team. Their choice from the Diamondbacks organization was outfielder Alek Thomas. Thomas was a second round pick in last year’s draft, selected 62nd overall and signed to a $1.2M bonus to forgo a commitment to play at Texas Christian University. Thomas put together a quality debut campaign between the Arizona League Dbacks and the Missoula Osprey in the Pioneer League, slashing .333/.395/.463 in 271 total plate appearances in 56 games. His wRC+ totals of 136 and 129 proved that he was ready to make the leap to full season ball before his 19th birthday.
Thomas entered the season as the #7 prospect on MLB Pipeline, #8 on Baseball America, #7 on Fangraphs, and #6 by me (midseason jumped to #4). He has spent the entire 2019 season playing for Class A Kane County and has continued to improve.
Here’s what they said about the fast-rising prospect:
Thomas in 2019 has seen his ISO jump to .184, his strikeout and walk rates both jumping to 20%/12%, and his overall offensive productivity up to a 148 wRC+. Thomas is only 19 years old and just scratching the surface of his potential as a player, although growing up around a major league clubhouse due to his father’s position with the Chicago White Sox has helped Thomas develop an advanced approach and grind through the minors. It’s pretty clear that the Midwest League was not a significant enough challenge as he went from a slow start in the first two weeks to tearing up the league by June. A promotion to Visalia could happen in the near future to see more advanced pitching.
Thomas projects as a future regular at center field, although the team has made a lot of outfield selections in the past two drafts. However, Thomas is ahead of most of those guys at this point. As he moves up the system, the areas he needs to work on the most is hitting left-handed pitching and adding more weight and strength to his frame. That should help boost his offensive profile to an above average hitter, especially if he can show not to be a liability against left-handed pitchers. Thomas in a small sample is 4 for 24 at the plate with a strikeout to walk ratio of 5/5, so it’s hard to evaluate how he’s faring against southpaws without actual video.