This is from our good friend C. Trents blog over on 1530 & Lotd
Lookouts' Thompson rolling
Monday, April 14, 2008, 07:59 AM EST [Reds]
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- The first thing Daryl Thompson wants you to know is that although the scoreboard radar gun showed 97 miles per hour on a pitch of his last week at AT&T Field in Chattanooga, he doesn’t throw that hard.
“The gun’s wrong -- make sure you put that in,” Thompson said. “I’m definitely not throwing 97, maybe 92, maybe 93, but not 97. I think the gun has something extra on it. It’s good for the crowd though.”
Whatever speed Thompson is throwing, it’s working. In two starts for Class AA Chattanooga, the 22-year old right-hander is 1-0 in two starts and has yet to give up an earned run. He’s struck out 13 in 12 innings and walked just one.
“The key so far for Daryl, like any young pitcher, is getting his offspeed over the plate for strikes,” said Chattanooga pitching coach Chris Bosio, who pitched 11 years in the big leagues with Milwaukee and Seattle. “With his fastball command, and now getting his offspeed over in any count, is the recipe for success for any pitcher. Daryl’s taken the No. 1 slot here and run with it.”
Thompson, who was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the 2006 blockbuster that brought Bill Bray and Gary Majewski to Cincinnati in exchange for Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns, was 14-5 with Class A Dayton and Sarasota last season, finishing with a 3.18 ERA. He led all Reds minor leaguers in victories, was second in ERA and fifth in strikeouts (121).
Despite his success coming into the 2008 season – and the fact he was put on the 40-man roster in November – Thompson said he didn’t feel like he could reach the major leagues until this spring, when he was able to suit up with the big league team for two exhibition appearances.
“I’m a confident dude, but I’m not cocky,” said Thompson, who was drafted in the eighth round of the 2003 draft by the Nationals out of high school in Maryland. “You watch ESPN and all you see is the good stuff, home runs and the pitchers who do get guys out, their stuff is unbelievable. I didn’t think I had that stuff. But I went to big league camp and I wasn’t pitching to any of the really big name guys, but I didn’t give up a hit or a walk and I was pretty satisfied with the way I did. I feel like I can go out there and hold my own.”
Thompson did more than hold his own in spring, appearing in two big league games, striking out four batters in 2 1/3 innings.
Not only did Thompson pitch well in a Reds uniform in the spring, he used his time to watch the way the pitchers on the Reds roster went about his business. And any time he got a chance to watch Aaron Harang, even if it was just in a bullpen throwing session, Thompson took special notice.
“He doesn’t throw mid-90s or anything,” Thompson said. “But everything he throws is for a strike.” Harang has often talked about how he thinks the most important pitch to a batter is strike one, and it’s the same philosophy Thompson has embraced.
“Every time I go out there, I try to get that first pitch strike,” Thompson said. “I try to keep them off balance and trick them. It all depends on the team. I either go right at them or pitch backwards.”
Bosio said he noticed how much being in big league camp helped Thompson, and that Thompson had the right personality, approach and maturity to appreciate and learn from his time around the big leaguers.
“He went about his business in spring training. I think that helped him by watching. He’s been able to apply a lot of that to become a more polished pitcher,” Bosio said. “Being in big league camp helped him immensely. He’s a very quiet young man. The other night Matt Belisle came down here, went about his work, I think he had 1 first pitch strikes, his velocity varied between 88-92, so he’s very aggressive with his four-seamer and his sinker. We talked about it as a staff, there’s a lot to learn from watching with your eyes. Daryl’s had that luxury of putting on the big league uniform and the feeling of belonging.”
So far in his two starts in Class AA, Thompson hasn’t looked like he’s belonged there, because the batters haven’t been able to do anything with him. In the Lookouts’ opener, he went six innings against Tampa Bay’s Montgomery affiliate, allowing three hits, an unearned run and five strikeouts without a walk. Then last week against Birmingham (White Sox), Thompson went six innings with two hits, no runs, eight strikeouts and one walk.
“I put the past games behind me and try to do better. The first couple of games, I made some bad pitches where the guys didn’t make me pay like they should have,” Thompson said. “My last game (against Birmingham), I got away with a lot. I really wasn’t satisfied with the way I threw. I was effectively wild. I was throwing balls up here, and that’s not me. I feel like I can pound the strike zone more. I only have one walk, but I’ve gone 0-2 and ended up going 2-2, I just want to put them away and I hate to waste pitches.”
Thompson pitched last season in Sarasota with current Reds starter Johnny Cueto, and that humbled him a bit.
“His stuff is like a video game, it’s just like a video game,” Thompson said of Cueto. “When I first came to Sarasota last year, it seemed like he got bored. He’d give up two or three hits in the first couple of innings and then he’d blow 97, 98 to show them they couldn’t really hit him. It was crazy to see him throw. My stuff isn’t any close.”
Now, watching SportsCenter and the like, Thompson can see that not too many people have stuff close to Cueto, and he doesn’t have to overpower batters to get them out. Instead, he can continue to pitch like he has been and be successful.
“Knowing you belong is huge for success of any player,” Bosio said. “These guys don’t realize how close they are. There are five starters ahead of them in AAA and at any point they could call on you, it all depends on what they’re looking for. If they’re looking for a right-handed curveball, slider guy, Daryl’s the guy. He works fast. He’s got the temperament that he doesn’t get too high and doesn’t get too low. I call him bulletproof, and I think he is.”
Thompson, though, said he doesn’t think about any of that. He tires not to pay attention to the outside and what’s being said. He didn’t even know that Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky had gotten roundly criticized for the trade that brought him to the Reds system, or that Krivsky has routinely said Thompson was one of the key components to the deal.
“I had no idea, when I got traded, I just knew the Nationals didn’t want me anymore, but at least someone did. I’m just happy to have a uniform on,” Thompson said. “To be honest with you, I’ve never had an idea about that stuff. I don’t pay attention to it, I just come out here and pound the zone and throw strikes.”