- Full name Justin Joseph Thomas
- Born 01/18/1984 in Toledo, OH
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 220 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Youngstown State
- Debut 09/01/2008
Drafted in the 4th round (113th overall) by the Seattle Mariners in 2005 (signed for $290,000).
View Draft ReportLHP Justin Thomas joined former Giants first-round pick Brad Hennessey as the only Youngstown State hurlers to win conference pitcher-of-the-year honors, coming with six of Dave Dravecky's Penguins career strikeout record in the process. Thomas is sturdily built at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds and has solid arm strength. He pitches at 87-88 mph and tops out 92, and he'll flash a good slider at times.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Thomas handcuffed lefthanders in both Double-A (.224 average) and Triple-A (.136) last year to earn his first big league callup in September. He had spent much of the past two seasons in the Double-A rotation, pitching ineffectively through a bout with bone chips in 2007, but he worked strictly as a reliever in Seattle. Thomas has a fast arm, a short arm swing and as much natural movement on his pitches as any Mariners farmhand. He also has the type of durable frame that should enable him to hold up in any role. He pitches at 88-92 mph with tailing life on his fastball, but he falls in love with his slider, which he throws more than half the time. It arrives in the low 80s with lateral break, and it's effective because when paired with his fastball, it helps him keep the ball on the ground. Thomas mixes in a changeup versus righthanders. He struggles to find the strike zone at times and probably lacks the consistency of his secondary offerings to make it as a starter, but he could develop into an effective left-on-left reliever.
Everything Thomas throws moves, and he has the type of durable frame to absorb innings. He struggled in Double-A West Tenn a year after dominating in the California League playoffs, where he struck out 17 and didn't allow a run in 12 innings. Thomas lost a few ticks off his 88-92 mph fastball as he tried to pitch through pain brought on by bone chips in his left elbow. He shut things down in April and never got on track afterward in the Southern League. Thomas has the raw stuff to rival any lefthander in Seattle's system, with a lively fastball, a solid slider that breaks laterally and a fading changeup. His command isn't as impressive as his control, and he needs to do a better job of staying on top of his slider and changeup. The Mariners love his makeup, though, and he's a mid-rotation starter if everything clicks, a power lefty reliever if it doesn't. Thomas will reach Triple-A by the end of the 2008 season, but with the big league club's bevy of lefty pitching, the Mariners can afford to take it slow.
After Tony Butler, Thomas has the best stuff among the lefthanders in the system. He gets good life on an 88-92 mph fastball, backs it up with a solid slider and mixes in a changeup. All three pitches rate as plus at times, though not on a consistent basis. They all move, with his fastball cutting and sinking, his slider breaking laterally and his changeup fading down and away. Thomas also can throw all three of them for strikes, and he has the durable frame to absorb a lot of innings. He gets extra credit for his makeup and was at his best while Inland Empire was winning the California League championship. Thomas struck out 17 and didn't allow a run in 13 innings over two postseason starts. Though he had no problems while reaching high Class A in his first full season, he still has work to do. His command isn't as impressive as his control, he needs to do a better job of staying on top of his slider and his changeup needs to become more reliable. If he can improve in all of those areas, he could become a No. 3 starter. Thomas will open 2007 in Double-A.