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Cubs Prospect Perspective: Riley Thompson

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We don’t have a lot of information on him as he hasn’t pitched since 2019. What’s best for him going forward — starting or relieving?

Riley Thompson
Riley Thompson
Clinton Cole

Recenly, I was rototilling an idea. A strand of said idea sent me off on a fun new tangent. It might not be entirely popular. Unsurprisingly, it takes a non-baseball veer, and mocks popular thought. Your assessments are welcomed, because some ideas are skanky enough to deserve criticism, regardless. Hopefully, in the process, you learn a bit about the subject, Riley Thompson.

With little or no reason to contemplate major league baseball (thanks Rob Manfred and the league’s owners), I’m spending time elsewhere. Much of that is upgrading my knowledge on Premier League action. One of my recent thoughts involved a potential managerial discussion in elite league soccer. Teams usually have around 27 players on their list (roster), and they choose eleven starters and eight or so potential reserves for each match (game).

Some players are healthy. Others are dinged, actually injured, out with COVID, suspended, or bad. Imagine the soccer boss has to decide on a final midfielder for his starting eleven. One is their 18th best player (by statistics and analytics), and the other is his 22nd. If statistics and analytics (used interchangeably, with analytics being Edgertronic-, Hawkeye-, and Rapsodo-type numbers we’ll likely never see) are predictive, the 18th player should get the call most of the time. If statistics aren't predictive, health, recent form, days without an off-day, age, and prospect status might matter more.

Riley Thompson, right-handed pitcher

Born July 9, 1996. Evansville, Indiana
2018 Cubs 11th Round pick from the University of Louisville

Drafted previously by the Reds and Yankees, Thompson agreed to terms with the Cubs in 2018. He pitched for short-season Eugene in 2018, and then Low-A South Bend in 2019. With South Bend, he averaged less than five innings per in his 21 starts. Here is the point where I have two options. Most of you would prefer I would rush into the backlog of reports on Thompson’s velocity and repertoire from 2019, when he last pitched.

However.

As I don’t believe information that will be 30 months old when he pitches in his next game will be of any realistic value, what would be of value is the Cubs internal flight plan for Thompson. Is he a 20 pitch per outing guy? Maybe 30? Perhaps 40? That, and how he does in games in 2022, matters. Alas, I have not read his personal flight plan. He averaged over eight strikeouts per nine innings in South Bend as a starting pitcher. A move to the bullpen, if that’s the call, could up his velocity to... what would it be after missing two entire seasons of game action.

I’m amused by writers putting 50s and 60s (on the 20/80 scale) on pitchers’ deliveries after rarely watching them pitch. (Gotta represent knowledge, whether you have it or not.) If Thompson is healthy in April, he’ll be assigned... somewhere. Then, and only then, will we add knowledge to our collective memories on the 2018 third day draft selection. Feigning importance of data that no longer applies seems a bit absurd.