Over the past couple of years, Trayce Thompson has developed a reputation for wielding a powerful bat. It hadn't been evident in his first handful of Arizona Fall League games, but he's beginning to show it off once again.
The White Sox outfielder bashed his second homer in three games Saturday, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored to lead Salt River in an offensive outburst to top Mesa, 12-6.
Chicago's top prospect started his Fall League campaign by going 2-for-19 through his first seven games with two runs driven in, but has gone 4-for-11 in his last three and tripled his RBI total to six.
Thompson acknowledged that he's known in part for being a power hitter, but that he's worked harder to develop a more well-rounded approach at the plate.
"I mean I've always been able to hit home runs, since I was a kid even," he said. "I'm not really pleased with myself as far as the strikeouts -- it's a give-and-take thing. The second half of this year I cut down on those and the power was still up, so I'm pleased with that. But if I'm going to hit home runs and strike out a ton, I don't want that. I want to be a complete hitter."
The 21-year-old added that he'd begun feeling more comfortable in the Fall League environment and found his timing, accounting for the recent surge.
"[The Fall League] is just kind of different, going from the season to out here and not playing every day. It's hard to get timing sometimes, you just have to go up there and simplify things," he noted. "I'm not worried about hitting for power, I know it's going to come if I make more contact and just be consistent at the plate.
"I've been working a lot with our hitting guy, Jon Nunnally, and our manager Matt Williams. They're giving me good advice, so it's coming together."
The 2009 second-rounder had probably his best year as a professional this season. He hit .254 with 22 homers and 90 RBIs in 116 games for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem, getting on base at a .325 clip and slugging .486. He hit .301 and slugged .526 following the All-Star break to earn a promotion in mid-August to Double-A Birmingham.
In 14 games with the Barons, he batted .280 with three homers, a .379 OBP and .520 slugging mark before getting a taste of Triple-A in six games at the end of the year with Charlotte, where he went 3-for-18 with a pair of doubles.
In nine AFL games, he's now batting .200 with a .368 OBP and .400 slugging percentage. He's also shown the kind of solid plate discipline he said he was trying to develop, walking eight times and striking out nine after he fanned 166 times against 55 walks during the regular season.
"It's been much better, especially out here. I feel more comfortable at the dish, stringing together quality at-bats," he said. "Even if I do strike out, it's after a long at-bat, so I'm feeling much better. The more I focus on not trying to do too much, things click for me, so maybe that's the secret."
On Saturday, Nationals' No. 3 prospect Brian Goodwin tripled twice, walked twice, scored twice and drove in a run for the first-place Rafters (9-7) out of the leadoff spot. Arizona infielder Tyler Bortnick also went 4-for-5 with a double, four RBIs and two runs.
Salt River starter Chase Anderson (2-0) yielded two runs on four hits without any walks and eight strikeouts over four frames.
No. 6 Cubs' prospect Matt Szczur went 2-for-4 with a triple, a walk and two runs while leading off for the Solar Sox (4-12). Bobby Borchering (Astros) added a two-run homer in the fifth, his second of the AFL campaign.