Righthander Mason Thompson pushed his fastball to the upper 90s coming out of the bullpen this fall in instructional league action. He shelved his changeup in favor of his power slider.
And he was still 6-foot-7 and 223 pounds.
In other words, he still offered plenty to dream on when it was time for the Padres to add prospects to the 40-man roster.
“He’s been a prospect his whole life and he’s just been frustrated with all the nicks and annoying injuries, even going back to his junior year when he blew out in high school,” Padres minor league pitching coordinator Eric Junge said.
“I think there’s a lot of untapped potential. I think he’s ready to put all that in his rearview mirror.”
The Padres bought into that Thompson’s potential—drafting him in the third round in 2016 out of Round Rock (Texas) High—even after Tommy John surgery limited him to one inning his senior year.
Thompson has since contended with biceps and shoulder ailments. A comebacker off his leg derailed him in 2019 and the coronavirus pandemic wiped away the 2020 season until he showed up at the instructional league with just 159.1 innings over four professional seasons.
They were not especially good innings. He struck out 162 batters but walked 76 and posted a 5.08 ERA.
But Thompson, who will be 23 next season, worked well on his own at home after the minor league season was scrapped and thrived when the Padres gave him a look in the bullpen against Double-A talent at instructional league.
So much so that Thompson was somewhat a surprise addition to the 40-man roster in November. The Padres aren’t ruling him out as a starter, but the organization wants to see where his fall momentum as a reliever takes him.
“He wasn’t able to really stay on the mound and give us that taste,” Junge said, “but what he showed us in (October) was good enough for us to say we can still dream on this kid.”
—The Padres also added righthander Reggie Lawson and middle infielder Tucupita Marcano to the 40-man roster. Lawson, who had Tommy John surgery last March, signed for an over-slot deal for $1.9 million as the No. 71 pick in the 2016 draft. His throwing program has progressed to 90 feet. Marcano, meanwhile, signed for $320,000 out of Venezuela during the Padres’ 2017 international spending spree. Lawson has not pitched above Double-A, while Marcano has not played above high Class A.
— Righthander Anderson Espinoza, on the comeback from a second Tommy John surgery, progressed to pitching largely in one- and two-inning stints at instructional league. Once ranked as high as No. 19 on the Top 100 Prospects list, the 22-year-old Espinoza hasn’t pitched since 2016.