At this time last year, second baseman Tony Thomas was increasing his draft stock with every game he played at Florida State. After leading NCAA Division 1 with 189 total bases, Thomas went from a fringy prospect to a top 100 draft pick, going 97th overall to the Cubs with the third pick in the third round.
Thomas, 21, hasn’t enjoyed the same offensive success this season with high Class A Daytona in the Florida State League that he had last year in short-season Boise, where he batted .308/.404/.544 in 214 plate appearances with 28 stolen bases in 30 attempts. This season, albeit in a less hitter-friendly park, Thomas is hitting .260/.311/.377 in 161 plate appearances with seven steals in nine attempts.
"The main difference is consistency with pitching," Thomas said. "Everybody from the starters to the bullpen is pretty good. In the Northwest League, you might have a guy who was dominant, and a guy who was just coming in to sweep up the mess. Everyone here has great stuff and is going to be around the plate."
Since the consensus among scouts is that Thomas’s fielding potential is average at best, he will have to kick his hitting performance up a notch, which he has the tools and pure hitting ability to do. But Thomas is also cognizant of how he can improve in the field.
"One thing is when I was turning double plays, I let my arms get all wide and long, and it was making me turn (double plays) a little slower," said Thomas, who is 5-foot-10, 185 pounds. "So now I’m keeping my hands closer to my body and turning double plays has been a little quicker. I have really long arms and sometimes I’d just let them go wild. Now I try to keep elbows close to body, which makes my transaction from the bag to first base a lot quicker."