Jays From the Couch kicks off our 2019 Blue Jays Top Prospects list with #20- Trent Thronton
On November 17, 2018, the Blue Jays traded infielder Aledmys Diaz to the Houston Astros for right handed pitching prospect Trent Thornton. This trade served two purposes for the Jays – reducing the infield logjam and stocking up on pitching options for the future.
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Thornton was drafted by the Astros in the 5th round of the 2015 draft, after he pitched for three seasons at the University of North Carolina. The Astros sent him to low A ball after the draft at age 21 where he pitched well, going 4-0 with a 3.27 era in 15 games. In 2016, pitching in his first full season he split time between high A and AA, pitching in 24 games between the two. Again he had good results, going 10-5 with a 3.52 era. Thornton struggled in 2017 with a 6.06 era at AA and a 5.09 era at AAA.
In 2018 Thornton pitched at AAA Fresno and had a solid season overall. His 4.42 era was 10th best among qualified pitchers in the Pacific Coast League. It is worth noting that in April-June his era was 3.24 but in July-August it ballooned to 6.36. This is something the Jays will want to keep an eye on with Thornton, whether he pitches in AAA in 2019 or if he pitches his way in to a major league job. Did he run out of gas as the season went on? Did opposing hitters make an adjustment to him and if so, can he adjust and return to pitching successfully? Time will tell.
Thornton’s repertoire consists of a low to mid 90s fastball, slider, change and curve ball. The one stand out that has been consistently reported in terms of his stuff is an exceptionally high spin rate on his curve ball. In the long run, his best path to a successful MLB career may be as a two pitch pitcher – fast ball/curve ball.
The Jays added Thornton to their 40 man roster on November 21, 2018. There are plenty of question marks in terms of the Jays 2019 pitching staff, both in the rotation and the bullpen. Spots on the major league roster could open up at any time due to injuries, sub-par performances or even trades of established players. If Thornton pitches well enough, it’s very possible we could see him in a Jays uniform in 2019.
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