Minor League Report: Daryl Thompson
Reds' young right-hander no longer viewed as an afterthought
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Remember that controversial eight-player trade that the Reds made with the Nationals on July 13, 2006?
When it came to name recognition for Reds fans, pitcher Daryl Thompson was easily player No. 8. Cincinnati received relievers Gary Majewski and Bill Bray, infielder Brendan Harris and Thompson. Stars Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez went to Washington with former pitching prospect Ryan Wagner.
Still in the lower levels of the Minor Leagues at the time, Thompson was the only player in the deal with no big league experience. Yet the 22-year-old could become the most promising player in the exchange that has yet to yield real positive results for either club. It also sparked a still-unresolved grievance that was filed by the Reds against the Nationals over Majewski's injured shoulder.
"As far as getting traded and the talk about it, I never paid much attention to it," Thompson said.
Good idea. Thompson focused on pitching instead, and he posted a 2.57 ERA in five games for the Gulf Coast League Reds. Last season, he started out 5-0 with a 0.96 ERA, two walks and 24 strikeouts at Class A Dayton. It earned Thompson a promotion to higher Class A Sarasota, where he was 9-5 with a 3.77 ERA in 22 starts. He walked 31 and struck out 97.
"He had a nice season for us last year," Reds Minor League director Terry Reynolds said. "He was beyond the Midwest League, so we moved him to Sarasota. He was coming off an arm problem, but he's past that, and his best years are in front of him."
Thompson admitted to being somewhat intimidated when he first came to the Florida State League, saying he "gave the hitters too much credit."
"I'd get out there and I had a lot of adrenaline going," Thompson said. "I couldn't control myself. Then after about four or five starts, it kind of clicked in. Something just hit me, and I got locked in every time I went out there."
Thompson went 5-0 with a 1.80 ERA in six August starts. After the season, he was added to the 40-man roster, and he now finds himself at his first big league Spring Training. The Reds expect him to begin 2008 at Double-A Chattanooga.
"I never thought I'd be over here this soon," said Thompson, who was seated in front of his locker. "To be here with guys I watched growing up, I never thought I'd be pitching with them or on the same field and team with them. It's amazing. But I can't sit here living my dream. I have to keep going. It's not over yet. I want to be in the big leagues for a long time."
Dusty to visit: With the full squad reporting on Wednesday to Minor League camp, Reds manager Dusty Baker plans to come over later this week to talk to the organization's developing players. Baker also plans on bringing some of his big league veterans along.
"A lot of guys are going over to see if we can get some kind of organizational and systematic beliefs and ideas," Baker said on Wednesday morning.
Class of 2007: Catcher and first-round selection Devin Mesoraco has been in camp since last week, and he has a chance to compete for a spot at Class A Dayton. Mesoraco struggled during his first pro season, but the organization remains pleased with his ability.
"Every step he takes, he impresses," Reynolds said. "He needs innings and time. He has the skills."
What they're saying: "He's always at the right place at the right time. He knows all the plays. For a guy at his age that's moved around here in Spring Training, he knows all the cutoff relay positions. He knows the signs." -- Baker, on shortstop prospect and non-roster invite Adam Rosales, who has impressed the manager in camp