Dodgers Roster: What Lies Ahead for Trayce Thompson?

(Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

While there’s been quite a few discussions lately surrounding the prospective big league outfield picture of the Dodgers, there hasn’t been much chatter about Trayce Thompson. As a matter of fact, if veteran Matt Kemp somehow squeezes his way onto the Opening Day 25-man roster, it will likely create a logjam for a handful of other players, resulting in Thompson’s chances of making the big league squad extremely slim.

Currently, Thompson falls into the same boat as 27-year-old pitcher Wilmer Font. Both players are on the club’s 40-man roster, but both players are out of options. This means that if neither make the Opening Day big league roster, which is likely, neither will be able to simply be optioned to the minors. Instead, they’ll probably be outrighted, which would entail both players having to pass through waivers before they accept a minor league assignment in the Dodgers’ system. It’s tough to say if either would draw any interest from rival clubs, though, as both have struggled in their time during their most recent big league promotions.

In the case of Thompson, things haven’t been the same since his back injury in the summer of 2016. During April and May of that campaign, Thompson hit an admirable .280/.341/.576 with an impressive nine home runs over that short span. However, at the moment his injury struck late in the summer, his overall average sat at .225/.302/.436, although he still was able to post 13 home runs, 32 RBI and 32 runs scored before being placed on the disabled list. Scouts were beginning to think that opposing pitchers were figuring him out, however, it was agreed by most that his back injury was indeed hampering his rise to stardom.

When a plague of injuries struck the big league outfield early last season, Thompson was among those who was given a shot. Over 55 plate appearances in 27 games during late spring and after rosters expanded in the fall, he hit a mere .122/.218/.255, suggesting that he still wasn’t fully recovered from the back injury which occurred well over a year prior. During his time at Triple-A Oklahoma City last year, he slashed only .212/.269/.363 with nine long balls and 33 RBI over 369 PAs in 95 games.

In terms of his general skill set, when he’s 100% healthy, Thompson always had the potential to be among the best in the organization. His range and glove work are both outstanding, and while he’s not typically recognized for his arm strength, he’s certainly more than capable. And that’s not even taking into account his speed on the basepaths, an aspect of the game that the Dodgers may lack a bit heading into the beginning of the regular season. But perhaps most importantly, Thompson can effectively man all three outfield spots, definitely a plus in the eyes of the management crew and coaching staff.

There hasn’t been much talk about his health over the winter, but if he the same type of inability to produce at the plate during Cactus League play, 2018 may ultimately prove to be the 26-year-old’s demise, at least with the Dodgers. Still, even if he shows signs of promise, it will be an uphill battle to regain his spot on the organizational depth chart, as he’ll be competing with a whole slew of players, including Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor, Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, Enrique Hernandez, Rob Segedin, Alex Verdugo, and maybe even Kemp.

In the meantime, if Thompson somehow slips through the waiver cracks and finds his way back to OKC in 2018, the prospective outfield crew shaping up in Triple-A could quite easily be the best that the Pacific Coast League has seen in a long time.


12 thoughts on “Dodgers Roster: What Lies Ahead for Trayce Thompson?

  1. I’m afraid that unless Trayce has a great spring, any further MLB career will be with another organization. He seems like a great kid and I hope he can put things together again. Speaking of outfielders, Dustin Nosler released his list of Dodger prospects 41-50 today. Something I didn’t realize, Henry Ramos is the brother of Giants top prospect Heliot Ramos. I know you mentioned Henry the other day. Certainly worth a watch in ST. By the way, Nosler has Broussard at 47 which I’m assuming is much lower than you would rank him if you did that kind of list.

    1. Hey Jeff… I think what a lot of these secondary outlets/blogs do when they put together these “ranking” lists is they bunch together several of the primary lists from sources like BA, Keith Law and MLB Pipeline and stick to the same general climate outside of a few minor twists. I believe the big guys’ rankings are much more accurate than the smaller guys because they have the opportunity to see just about every prospect actually play. I think if these secondary bloggers take the time to see each and every prospect they rank compete in person, they’re probably in the wrong business. As for me, about as far as I’ll go with rankings is doing a fun, prospect “ranking by position” once or twice per year—

      I’m not sure why I ever developed a liking for Broussard, maybe it’s because a good friend of mine saw quite a few of his games when he was with LSU. If there’s anything that Broussard lacks, it’s really hard velocity, as his heater usually sits in the 91-92 MPH range. I’d like to think that he makes up for it with his movement. If he shows really good life on his cutter while showing solid command during Cactus League play, I think he could make his MLB debut sooner than many think. I don’t really see any other “true” reliever in the system ahead of him right now, although there probably aren’t really many natural relievers in the organization, period.

      1. You’re right about there not being any true reliever ahead of him in the system right now. The front office likes to make everyone into a starter and if they fail at that, relieving seems to be a fallback option. Another true reliever is Spitzbarth but Broussard is ahead of him at this point. I think both of those guys could be part of the Dodger bullpen at some point.

      2. Hey Jeff… although Broussard and Spitzbarth have their differences, I think they are similar in the sense that they have about equal fastball velocity—both normally sit in the 91 MPH range. While high velocity isn’t mandatory for today’s reliever, it certainly does help. And if you can’t throw hard, you better have decent movement, which is the reason I think Broussard will excel in the bigs. Last spring, I actually had the chance to chat with Spitzbarth about his repertoire and a few other things, if you’re interested in reading the story.

      3. Nice article. It’s fun to follow these guys from when we first draft them and watch their progress. Do you think if Shea ever has a son, he’ll name him Chavez?

      4. I guess it all depends on where he’s playing when the kid’s born, although I must admit Chickasaw Spitzbarth has a real ring to it.

    2. Total agreement. But I feel losing Trayce Thompson won’t really affect the Dodgers now nor in the future. But W. Font could be a very good pick up for a team that can let him go out every 5th day OR allowed to pitch out of the pen on a regular basis, every 2/3 days and hurl a full inning or two.

  2. I think we are all rooting for Trace, but looks like a tough road for him with The Dodgers. Let’s hope he is healthy, and let the chips fall where they will.

  3. Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs had a very interesting and pretty detailed post about Font yesterday. Made me think that maybe we shouldn’t be quite so quick to give up on him. His lack of success for us here in LA at the end of last season was a very small sample size and he was really pretty special at OKC all year. I hope they give him a good chance during ST. I think he could be a swing man and be pretty effective if he can pitch like he did in the minors last year. No options remaining so it’s the 25-man or nothing.

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