It never has been easy to poke holes in D-backs outfielder Alek Thomas’ game, but some wondered how his aggressive approach would play against more advanced pitchers.
Thomas answered that question in multiple ways in 2021. For starters, he turned in the best season of any position player in the organization, torching Double-A and Triple-A pitchers across five months.
Moreover, D-backs officials say they saw an improvement in the quality of his at-bats, including finding a sort of selective aggressiveness.
“We challenged him with controlling the zone better this year and making better swing decisions,” D-backs farm director Josh Barfield said. “That’s the kind of thing you see with elite hitters in the big leagues. He has always been able to hit, but we challenged him with that and he really responded.”
Barfield said the organization pushed that idea on Thomas when he was with Double-A Amarillo in early August. The 21-year-old immediately went on a 10-game tear that earned him a promotion to Triple-A Reno, where he proceeded to hit .369/.434/.658 in 34 games.
“We don’t want to take away what makes you elite and makes you good, but you don’t have to go up there and swing at every first pitch,” D-backs assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye said. “You’re going to need to control your at-bats a little better as you move up. I think he’s done that in Triple-A.”
In the process, the 2018 second-rounder from Mount Carmel High in Chicago has put himself on the doorstep of the major leagues.
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound outfielder was said to be one of the top performers at the club’s alternate training site last year, which is no surprise given the numbers he has posted in his professional career. Since turning pro, Thomas has a .312/.388/.495 line, hitting for more power than might be expected out of his modest frame.
“He was consistent throughout the year,” Barfield said. “We pushed him to Triple-A at 21, and he’s more than handled that challenge. Every challenge you throw at this guy he seems to respond.”
— Shortstop Geraldo Perdomo was expected to play in the Arizona Fall League, but a promotion to Triple-A Reno followed by a late September callup to Arizona prompted the club to scratch those plans.
“It’s been a long year for him,” Barfield said. “Next year and next spring will be big for him, so we’ll just have him plan on coming out (to Salt River Fields) in early January to continue to work (on refining his swing).”
— First baseman Seth Beer dislocated his shoulder and tore his left labrum diving for a ball in his first game playing the field in the big leagues on Sept. 14. The timetable for his recovery is five to six months, putting him on schedule to return early next season.