AARON THOMPSON
LEFT HANDED PITCHER
  Born: February 28, 1987
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 190
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Drafted: 1st Round, 22nd Overall, 2006
How Acquired: Waiver Claim
High School: Second Baptist High School (Houston, TX)
Agent: Octagon

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

The Marlins drafted Thompson in the first round in 2005 and he signed after his chosen college changed coaches.  For several years he made steady progress through the Florida system, but it seems to have been based more on his status as a first-round pick than on performance.  He throws 88-91, occasionally harder, with a change that Baseball America described as his best pitch prior to the 2009 season and as average prior to 2010.  His slider needs work.  He was a groundball pitcher in the low minors, but has increasingly become a flyball pitcher as he’s moved up, although he usually hasn’t had trouble with HRs.  BA ranked him the 13th best prospect in the Marlins’ system prior to the 2009 season and 12th in a much shallower Nationals’ system prior to 2010.  The Pirates claimed him off waivers when the Nationals removed him from their 40-man roster in December 2010.

2005
R:  2-4-0, 4.50 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 42 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 11.5 K/9
A-:  1-2-0, 3.10 ERA, 1.72 WHIP, 20.1 IP, 4.4 BB/9, 7.5 K/9

Despite the good ERA in short season ball, Thompson didn’t pitch very well either there or in rookie ball, as opponents hit over .300 against him at both levels.

2006
A:  8-8-0, 3.63 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 134 IP, 2.4 BB/9, 7.7 K/9

Pitched much better in low A, getting his opponents’ average down to .270.

2007
A+:  4-6-0, 3.37 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 115 IP, 2.7 BB/9, 6.6 K/9

Had a similar season in high A, although his K rate dropped.

2008
R:  0-0-0, 2.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 9 IP, 1.0 BB/9, 9.0 K/9
AA:  2-5-0, 5.62 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 81.2 IP, 4.4 BB/9, 5.8 K/9 

In AA, Thompson missed two months with a minor shoulder problem.  When he was able to pitch, he regressed in every area.  Opponents hit .331 against him.

2009
AA (Fla):  5-9-0, 4.11 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 114 IP, 3.4 BB/9, 5.9 K/9
AA (Wash):  0-3-0, 3.31 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 32.2 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 7.4 K/9 

Thompson returned to AA and continued struggling until shortly before the Marlins traded him to the Nationals for Nick Johnson.  He learned a cutter shortly before leaving the Marlins and pitched well the rest of the year, with a higher K rate and fewer hits and walks.

2010
AA:  4-13-0, 5.80 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 136.2 IP, 3.5 BB/9, 6.3 K/9
AAA:  1-0-0, 1.80 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 5 IP, 5.4 BB/9, 7.2 K/9 

Returned to AA yet again and struggled all year, getting hit harder, including more HRs (16).

2011
AA:  4-7-0, 5.16 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 83.2 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 5.5 K/9
AAA:  1-0-0, 2.84 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 19 IP, 4.3 BB/9, 4.7 K/9
MLB:  0-0-0, 7.04 ERA, 2.48 WHIP, 7.2 IP, 7.0 BB/9, 1.2 K/9

Thompson continued to struggle in AA, although his peripherals weren’t quite as bad as his ERA and he allowed only six HRs.  The Pirates removed him from the 40-man roster in June when they needed room to add Chase d’Arnaud.  He cleared waivers and remained at Altoona, pitching in relief until late in the season.  With much of the Indianapolis pitching staff needed in Pittsburgh, the Pirates moved Thompson up to AAA in August.  He had a good ERA there, but his other numbers were poor.  When pitching injuries created a need for a spot starter, though, the Pirates put Thompson back on the roster in late August and called him up.  He threw four and a third shutout innings against the Brewers, then went back to AAA the next day.  The Pirates called him back up in September and he pitched three times in relief, faring poorly.  His fastball averaged only a little over 88 and he had a very high line drive rate of 27.3%.

It wasn’t easy to see why the Pirates claimed Thompson and the reasons didn’t become clearer when his struggles continued afterward.  They outrighted him to AAA after the World Series.  He has the option of becoming a free agent.  It’s hard to imagine another team adding him to its 40-man roster, so it’s conceivable he could return to the Pirates on a minor league deal.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2011: Major League Minimum
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $1,225,000
MiLB Debut: 2005
MLB Debut: 8/24/2011
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2017
Rule 5 Eligible: Protected
Added to 40-Man: 11/19/2009 (removed, then added again on 8/24/2011, and removed again on 10/31/2011.)
Options Remaining: 1 (USED: 2010, 2011)
MLB Service Time: 0.000
TRANSACTIONS
June 7, 2005: Drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 1st round, 22nd overall; signed on June 16.
July 31, 2009: Acquired by the Washington Nationals from the Florida Marlins in exchange for Nick Johnson.
November 19, 2010: Contract purchased by the Washington Nationals.
December 23, 2010: Claimed off of waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Washington Nationals.
June 24, 2011: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates; outrighted to AA on June 30.
August 24, 2011:  Added to 40-man roster and called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
October 31, 2011:  Outrighted to AAA by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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