Thursday, November 19, 2009

Prospect Focus: Josh Thole

Splits courtesy

The Mets selected Thole in the 13th round of the 2005 draft, and sent him to the GCL Mets, where he hit .269/.406/.337/.743 (28 for 104, 14 runs, 2 2b, 3b, HR, 12 RBI, 20/11 BB/K) in 35 games, an outstanding 1.8182 BB/K ratio, and a ridiculously low .105 K rate, both incredible numbers for an 18 year old in any setting.

Thole hit .370/.514/.407/.921 vs LHP in 2005 (10 for 27, 2b, 6/2 BB/K), with a 3.000 BB/K ratio and a .074 K rate, and .234/.366/.312/.678 (18 for 77, 2b, 3b, HR, 14/9 BB/K) vs RHP, with a 1.556 BB/K ratio, and a .117 K rate.

In 2006, Thole played in 35 games for Kingsport, getting just 96 ABs, and hitting .240/.306/.313/.619 (23 for 96, 4 2b, HR, 7/24 BB/K), a .2917 BB/K ratio and a .250 K rate, both drastically elevated from the year prior. He hit .167/.286/.208/.494 vs LHP (4 for 24, 2b, 2/6 BB/K) and .264/.313/.347/.660 (19 for 72, 3 2b, HR, 5/18 BB/K) vs RHP. Both sample sizes are too small to draw any meaningful conclusions from.

2007 saw Thole in full season Savannah, where he performed markedly better then Kingsport, hitting .267/.372/.311/.683 (104 for 389, 46 runs, 17 2b, 36 RBI, 61/57 BB/K), once again with excellent ratios, a 1.0701 BB/K ratio, and a .147 K rate.

Thole batted .301/.414/.329/.743 against LHP (22 for 73, 2 2b, 11/9 BB/K), a 1.22 BB/K ratio, and a .123 K rate. Against RHP, he batted .261/.368/.312/.680 (82 for 314, 16 2b, 52/47 BB/K), a 1.107 BB/K ratio and a .150 K rate.

Thole, as many Met prospects have done, has improved drastically across the board after making the jump from the Sally League to the pitcher friendly FSL. Thole finished the 2008 season hitting .300/.382/.427/.808 (104 for 347, 49 runs, 25 2b, 2 3b, 5 HR, 56 RBI, 45/38 BB/K), a great 1.184 BB/K ratio and an equally fantastic .110 K rate (which for much of the season was below .100).

Thole got off to a very rough start, hitting .228/.323/.386/.709 in April, and since that point, he hit .314/.393/.434/.828 (91 for 290, 42 runs, 21 2b, 3b, 4 HR, 46 RBI, 38/30 BB/K)

As has been the case throughout the majority of Thole's minor league career, he hit better against LHP then RHP, but this year, that gap narrowed considerably. He hit .333/.386/.432/.818 (27 for 81, 14 runs, 6 2b, 3b, 8 RBI, 6/8 BB/K) vs LHP, with a 0.750 BB/K ratio, and a K rate of .098, while against RHP, he hit .289/.381/.426/.807 (76 for 263, 35 runs, 19 2b, 3b, 5 HR, 48 RBI, 39/30 BB/K), with a 1.300 BB/K ratio, and a .114 K rate.

Thole played the majority of his first 3 seasons as a 1b (142 of 187 games), but in 2008, he played much more catcher, giving him infinitely more value as a player and a prospect.

THE FUTURE: Thole will undoubtedly be in Binghamton to open the 2009 season (after setting career highs in every offensive category except OBP), as the everyday catcher, and one of the few catching prospects in the upper levels of the farm system. While SAL to FSL is one test, the much bigger test for a prospect is the jump from the FSL to EL, the jump Thole will be making in 2009. Thole is solidly on pace for a prospect, playing the entire season as a 21 year old this year affords him a cushion if he were to falter on his trek through the system.

For more on Josh Thole, visit my good friend Joe DeMayo's website, NYbaseballdigest.

UPDATE 2009: Thole enjoyed yet another terrific offensive season, this time in AA Binghamton, setting career highs in 2b (29), SBs (8), K rate (.089), AVG (.328), and OPS (.817). Overall this season in Binghamton, he hit .328/.395/.422/.817 (126 for 384, 48 runs, 29 2b, 2 3b, HR, 46 RBI, 42/34 BB/K, 8/12 SBs), with a great 1.24 BB/K ratio, and a ridiculously low .089 K rate.

Thole's L/R platoon splits reversed themselves this season somewhat, he hit for an identical average/OBP against both lefties and righties, but flashed off more 'pop' against righties, driving his OPS higher. Against lefties, he hit .328/.391/.388/.779 (38 for 116, 13 runs, 7 2b, 10 RBI, 10/14 BB/K, 1/4 SBs), with a .7143 BB/K ratio and a .121 K rate. Against righties, Thole hit .328/.396/.437/.833 (88 for 268, 35 runs, 22 2b, 2 3b, HR, 36 RBI, 32/20 BB/K, 7/8 SBs), with a ridiculous 1.6000 BB/K ratio, and an equally ridiculous .075 K rate.

THE FUTURE: Thole's gotten a September callup, and is performing decently, hitting .324, albeit with no pop (29 IsoP) as of this writing. I would hope the Mets keep Thole on the conservative path, and allow him to start 2010 in Buffalo (moreso for his defense then his offense).

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