Since this is the mid-season write-up, it's just a quick overview of the player. When we get to the preseason re ranking in the offseason, they'll be a lot more involved.
Stats are current as of 8/4/2019.
All write-ups were published during the first week of July.
Prospect #7: OF Lane Thomas
Acquired from TOR for International signing bonus money
Let me start this by saying that I love Lane Thomas. If I was in the Cardinals front office, I'd be shopping the hell out of Harrison Bader, hoping that a team would over-spend for his defense, with the intent of using Thomas in CF regularly. That's because I believe that Lane Thomas is the better all-around baseball player, right now and moving forward, and if only by a little bit. COME GET CHU SOME.
Thomas remains the best use of International Bonus Pool funds that the Cardinals have spent since the most recent CBA. It'd be the second best use of money had they just spent the basically $60 million on Luis Robert, but that's a rabbit hole I'm backing out of today. Thomas is a valuable asset with pop, good fielding instincts, good base-running instincts, and speed to boot! He gets to the bag quicker than the infielder can get to the ball here:
It's been a down year for Thomas when he has been healthy, and that's a drag. If you've been following me for a while now, you know that I've often talked about how confidence is clearly his biggest issue. For him, confidence equals aggressiveness. Not in an over-aggressive way - a way that might get him in trouble - but in a way that allows for his skills and athleticism to play at the forefront. His approach is different when he's confident. The ground he covers in the outfield is different. The aggressiveness early in counts and the pitches that he's swinging at are different when he's playing with confidence. He does this without ever being showy about it. So, for those of you that hate Harrison Bader for having swagger, I present you with your alternative:
The major concern with Thomas is that, while he's done a good job of increasing his walk rate, most of his stats have regressed to his pre-Cardinals days, back when he was in the Toronto organization. He's back to striking out at a 27% rate. He's back to shortening his swing just shy of driving through the baseball, thus resulting in fly balls that are dying in the air instead of traveling over the fence. Speaking of traveling over the fence, here's Thomas literally traveling over the fence while making the best catch in all of the baseball world during the 2018 season:
The other noteworthy issue about Thomas' 2019 season, is that it's been interrupted by three stints with the Cardinals as a fifth outfielder, each time coming while he was putting it together a little bit at Memphis. My guess is, it won't take long for Thomas to get going this time around with Memphis. My hope is that he stays down there, unless he's given proper at-bats at the major league level. What I know for a fact, is that I hate it when a player is still developing and needs to play everyday but, instead, sits on the bench and doesn't receive reps for a week. This doesn't apply for the Rangel Ravelo or Patrick Wisdom or Jeremy Hazelbaker or Jose Martinez or the older-type career minor leaguers. It does apply for players that have recently seen a boom in their development like Thomas has since the beginning of the 2018 season.
Just another uncharacteristic misstep by this organization as of late.
Today is August 4th. Lane Thomas has been with the Cardinals for almost a week, and he hasn't started one game. Yairo Munoz and Tommy Edman are getting outfield starts ahead of him. He's producing off of the bench, as well. Last night, he hit a home run while the rest of the offense sputtered. I really do question Mike Shildt's handling of Thomas this season. It's terrible, and it's a shame.
Thanks to Fangraph for the stats!
Thanks For Reading!!