- Full name Marcus Markey Thames
- Born 03/06/1977 in Louisville, MS
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 220 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School East Central College (MO)
- Debut 06/10/2002
- Drafted in the 30th round (899th overall) by the New York Yankees in 1996.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Marcus Thames hammered a 95 mph Randy Johnson fastball into the monuments at Yankee Stadium in his first at-bat in the big leagues. Overall, though, he took a step back from a monster 2001 campaign. Thames hit .275 with three home runs during spring training, but the signing of free agent Rondell White and trades for Raul Mondesi and John Vander Wal limited his opportunities. He displayed his strength and bat speed by homering against Johnson, but Thames is probably closer to a .229 hitter (his composite average in 1999-2000 and 2002) than the one who smacked 78 extra-base hits in his third year in Double-A in 2001. Thames, who joined the National Guard as an 18-year-old to help support his family, has the work ethic the Yankees covet. He could develop into a serviceable reserve outfielder.
Another draft-and-follow project, Thames has been highly regarded for his tools, but his breakthrough last season was a pleasant surprise. In his third season at Norwich, Thames made a run at the Eastern League triple crown. His 78 extra-base hits tied journeyman Phil Hiatt for most in the minors. Like Juan Rivera, Thames worked with hitting coach Dan Radison and his game took off. It was just a matter of translating his tools into baseball skills. He was able to do so by improving his plan from at-bat to at-bat. Thames has above-average power to all parts of the park. He's an instinctive outfielder with the range for center and an above-average arm for right. After hitting .236 in his first 656 at-bats in Norwich, Thames will have to prove his season wasn't a fluke. He's a borderline five-tool prospect and needs to avoid falling back into the bad habits that plagued him prior to 2001. Thames continued to rake in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .346-4-20, and would have challenged for a job in New York if the club hadn't acquired Rondell White and John Vander Wal. Thames will spend the 2001 season in Triple-A or wait for a trade.
Few players in the system can match the array of tools possessed by Thames, yet another draft-and-follow on this list. His power potential, speed and arm all are above-average, though he's still learning how to put them to good use. He's too undisciplined at the plate, which is why he makes inconsistent contact and has batted .234 and .241 in the last two seasons. He also needs to improve his baserunning skills after going 1-for-6 stealing bases in 2000. Regularly used in right field, Thames could play center field if needed. He has been at Norwich since midseason 1999, but he'll have to return there yet again this year to show he can handle Double-A pitching. It will be a pivotal season for Thames, who likely will fall by the wayside if he doesn't show improvement.
Minor League Top Prospects
For all of his tools, Thames struggled for much of his first two seasons in Norwich. His third stop in the EL was entirely different, though Thames had to wait until Rivera left for Triple-A to get his proper acclaim. He led the league in runs, doubles, extra-base hits (78), on-base percentage (.410) and slugging percentage (.598). He'll have to prove himself in Triple-A because he was 24 and taking his third shot at Double-A, but EL managers think he'll do so. His all-around package of tools is impressive. "He's a good example of patience being rewarded," one scout said. "He's starting to put things together now. He's going to be a frontline outfielder. He's not a good center fielder yet, but he's going to be one."