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Former Sooners QB Thomas up for challenge in AFL

October 25, 2018

Before Kyler Murray starred in two sports at Oklahoma, Cody Thomas tried to do the same.Unlike Murray, Thomas wouldn't command a $4.66 million bonus as the ninth overall pick in the MLB Draft or challenge for the Heisman Trophy in his first season as a starting quarterback. But Thomas did

Before Kyler Murray starred in two sports at Oklahoma, Cody Thomas tried to do the same.
Unlike Murray, Thomas wouldn't command a $4.66 million bonus as the ninth overall pick in the MLB Draft or challenge for the Heisman Trophy in his first season as a starting quarterback. But Thomas did turn down the opportunity to go in the first five rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft in order to play baseball and football for the Sooners.
Arizona Fall League overviews for all 30 teams
Thomas redshirted in football in his first year at Oklahoma and started three games as a redshirt freshman in 2014. He played sparingly in baseball as a freshman and then took his second spring off, concentrating on the gridiron while competing for the starting quarterback job eventually won by future Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall NFL pick Baker Mayfield. He decided to focus solely on baseball in 2016, showing enough power and athleticism to earn a $297,500 bonus from the Dodgers after being selected in the 13th round of the 2016 Draft.
When he was a four-star quarterback recruit throwing 51 touchdown passes as a senior at Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High in 2012, Thomas didn't think he'd wind up becoming a full-time outfielder.
"I probably had intentions of playing football," Thomas said of his long-term plans as he headed to college. "Obviously, the Lord had different plans for me and now I'm here. I had an awesome time [at Oklahoma], went to go play both and ended up playing baseball. I couldn't be more happier about that."
Thomas made an easy transition back to the diamond, ranking second in the Rookie-level Pioneer League with 16 homers in his pro debut. He has slammed 58 homers in 307 pro games, including 19 this year while batting .285/.355/.497 and leading the Class A Advanced California League in extra-base hits (61) and total bases (248).
Besides left-handed power, Thomas also offers a strong arm and uncommon athleticism for a 6-foot-4, 211-pounder. To continue climbing toward Los Angeles, he'll need to prove he can make enough contact after finishing third in the Cal League with 163 strikeouts.
Playing in Arizona Fall League gives Thomas the opportunity to see how he'll need to adapt as he faces better pitching at higher levels. He got off to a slow start with the Glendale Desert Dogs, going 4-for-25 (.160) with nine strikeouts in the first two weeks, but said he's glad for the challenge.
"Iron sharpens iron," Thomas said. "Coming out here to face these elite pitchers, guys you might not see in high A, I'm getting to face some Double-A, Triple-A guys and guys that have been in The Show. For me, just seeing what that looks like and making adjustments game to game and facing different arms and how they're attacking me."
Dodgers hitters in the Fall League
Errol Robinson, INF -- Robinson is a glove-first middle-infielder who makes consistent contact and has the speed to do some damage on the bases. A 2016 sixth-rounder from Mississippi, he batted .247/.309/.353 with 10 homers and 18 steals in Double-A this season.

Keibert Ruiz, C -- Ruiz has developed into one of baseball's top catching prospects since signing out of Venezuela in 2014. He's a switch-hitter with advanced feel for the barrel, developing power and the tools to become a solid defender. He hit .268/.328/.401 with 12 homers as the second-youngest regular (age 19 for most of the season) in the Double-A Texas League.
Jared Walker, 1B/3B/2B -- A 2014 fifth-rounder from a Georgia high school, Walker finally began to tap into his huge raw power this year and slammed 25 homers after totaling 22 in his first four pro seasons. Best suited for first base, he batted .255/.365/.545 between two Class A stops.
Dodgers pitchers in the Fall League
Ben Holmes, LHP -- Wetzler led NCAA Division I with a 0.78 ERA at Oregon State in 2014 before signing as a ninth-rounder with the Marlins. He came to the Dodgers this July after Miami released him a month earlier. He has a low-90s fastball and lives off his cutter, which helped him log a 2.84 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings between high Class A and Double-A.
Nolan Long, RHP -- The 6-foot-10 hurler, who played baseball at basketball, at Wagner before signing as a 16th-rounder in 2015, has a fastball that reaches 96 mph and a developing slider. He posted a 3.06 ERA, .177 opponent average and 92 strikeouts in 70 2/3 relief innings between high Class A and Double-A.
Andre Scrubb, RHP -- A 2016 eighth-rounder from High Point, Scrubb's money pitch is a hard curveball that he sets up with a 92-94 mph fastball. He recorded a 2.86 ERA, .200 opponent average and 72 strikeouts in 63 relief innings while rising from low Class A to Double-A.
Jordan Sheffield, RHP -- Sheffield hasn't progressed as quickly as hoped since signing as a 2016 supplemental first-rounder from Vanderbilt, as a lack of command and durability have undermined a fastball that can reach 98 mph, a power breaking ball and a swing-and-miss changeup. The older brother of the Yankees' Justus Sheffield, he got rocked for a 6.32 ERA despite 44 strikeouts in 37 innings, mostly in high Class A.

Jim Callis is a reporter for Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.