It seems like every spring there are at least one or two prospects who capitalize on their opportunities during Cactus League play, perhaps showing fans of the Dodgers what might lie in store several years down the road.
So far in 2020, there have been a handful of youngsters worth noting, but one who has stuck out a little more than the rest is 25-year-old outfielder Cody Thomas.
Before Sunday’s contest against the Rangers, the native of Texas has appeared in seven of the Dodgers’ nine Cactus League games. He has gone 4-for-13 in those appearances, with all four hits being of the long ball variety. Most notably, two of those dingers came in the same inning against the Rockies on Saturday.
Earlier in the week, he made a leaping play in right field against the White Sox that made several highlight reels.
“He’s an interesting guy,” skipper Dave Roberts recently said of Thomas. “Football player, quarterback. The body is great, skill set is really good. First pitch he saw, he hits a homer the other way, and makes a great play in right field. Really, really good day for Cody.”
Thomas was originally selected in the 30th round of the 2013 draft by the Yankees, but he instead chose to enroll at the University of Oklahoma, where he became a two-sport athlete.
In 2015, he quit the baseball team to focus on football, trying to win the open quarterback competition which ultimately went to Baker Mayfield. In 2016, he reversed course and set his sights on baseball as his primary vision, posting numbers that were good enough for the Dodgers to grab him in the 13th round of the draft later that summer.
Soon after, the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder was ushered to Ogden in the Pioneer League, where he hit .276/.360/.576 with 16 homers and 44 RBI over 52 games. His 16 bombs earned him the league’s 2016 Joe Bauman Home Run Award.
In 2017, he played the entire season at Low-A Great Lakes, slashing a not-so-impressive .222/.293/.409. He managed to hit 20 home runs that year, but he also struck out a whopping 150 times.
Upon being promoted to the High-A Cal League in 2018, he upped his numbers by hitting .285/.355/.497 with 19 bombs over 499 AB. Still, his 163 punchouts that season were seemingly damaging to an otherwise stellar stat sheet. Nevertheless, he was still named as a Cal League All-Star and a milb.com Organizational All-Star. He also earned Cal League Player of the Week honors twice.
Playing exclusively for Double-A Tulsa last year, he hit .236/.308/.443 with 23 jacks and 76 RBI in 474 AB. His punchouts dropped to 144, but his high strikeout rate still remains one of the biggest holes in his game.
For the Drillers defensively last season, Thomas appeared in 26 games in left field, 31 in center and 69 in right.
Thomas was eligible for the Rule 5 draft at the 2019 Winter Meetings, but he did not draw enough interest for a rival team to snag him and keep him on its active roster for the entirety of the 2020 season.
Regardless, he has impressed Los Angeles management enough in recent years to extend a non-roster invite to the big league side of this year’s spring camp.
So far, he’s capitalized on that opportunity.
“I’m just out there trying to do my job, man,” Thomas said early in camp. “Making plays, having fun and play the game I know how, and that’s hard and with great focus every play.”
With almost two-thirds of the Cactus League schedule yet to be played, Thomas will have many chances to show management just where he stands in the organization as far as outfield depth goes.