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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Eighteen

What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, August 31st to September 5th?

David Thompson during a Syracuse Mets game on May 20, 2021.
David Thompson
Chris McShane

David Thompson

Week: 6 G, 20 AB, .400/.520/.850, 8 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 4 BB, 3 K, 2/2 SB (Triple-A)

2021 Season: 49 G, 162 AB, .259/.368/.562, 9 2B, 2 3B, 12 HR, 32 RBI, 19 BB, 48 K, 8/9 SB, .294 BABIP (Triple-A)

A Miami native, David Thompson attended attended Westminster Christian High School, a high school located in Palmetto Bay known for its exceptional baseball program. Splitting his time between baseball, football, and basketball, Thompson lettered four years on the diamond and on the gridiron and lettered three years on the court. Winning numerous awards and being named to honorary teams for all three sports, it became apparent that baseball was where his future lay, as he broke Florida’s single-season and career home run records, held by Westminster Christian alumnus Alex Rodriguez. He was selected by the Yankees in the 38th round of the 2012 MLB Draft, but did not sign with them, instead honoring his commitment to the University of Miami, where he intended on playing baseball and football.

Thompson ended up tearing his labrum just prior to the start of his college career, and as such, elected to the Miami Hurricanes football program in order to focus on playing baseball, as his compromised arm strength would not allow him to play a sufficient quarterback. Focusing exclusively on baseball, the freshman hit .286/.368/.462 with 6 home runs in his first year in the program, starting 51 of the 52 games he appeared in, splitting his time at first and third.

In early 2014, just as the Hurricanes were preparing to begin their 2014 season, Thompson began experiencing numbness in his hands and arms. When the issue did not go away, he sought out medical advice and doctors discovered that not only did he have a blood clot, but he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. He underwent surgery to relieve the condition, having a rib removed, and missed 32 games, returning near the end of the season just in time for postseason play. The fact that he was able to get on the field at all, let alone was able to hit .278/.368/.352, was miraculous in a way. He played in the Cape Cod League that summer and dominated for the Orleans Firebirds, hitting .331/.355/.466 and winning All-Star honors, and returned to Miami that spring fully healthy for the first time in his collegiate career.

Finally healthy, his Thompson demonstrated to scouts and evaluators just what he was capable of. Appearing in 66 games, the right-hander hit .329/.436/.647, slugging 19 home runs. A finalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, he led all of college baseball in home runs, led the ACC in RBI, and had a season comparable to eventual first-round selections Will Craig, DJ Stewart, Chris Shaw, and teammate Zack Collins. Thompson himself ended up being selected by the Mets in the 4th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, the 119th player selected overall, signing for $425,000, slightly below the MLB-assigned slot value of $474,800.

After finishing out the 2015 season with the Brooklyn Cyclones, Thompson split the 2016 season with the Columbia Fireflies and the St. Lucie Mets, where he combined to hit a perfectly cromulent .280/.333/.444, playing better defense than expected. His 2017 season with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies was similar, as he hit an unexciting-yet-perfectly-acceptable .263/.325/.429 in 133 games. Thompson was assigned to the Las Vegas 51s to begin the 2018 season but only played about a month before hitting the disabled list after being hit by a pitch and breaking his hand. He began a rehab assignment with the Brooklyn Cyclones when their season began in mid-June, but after aggravating an existing problem, his season ended prematurely. Thompson began the 2019 season with the Syracuse Mets, and drove in the very first RBI in Syracuse Mets history, but struggled and was eventually demoted back down to Binghamton, where he performed only marginally better. In 123 games combined, the 25-year-old hit a paltry .217/.289/.348. After missing 2020 because of COVID-19, Thompson was once again assigned to the Syracuse Mets to begin the year. He has performed better this season, hitting .259/.368/.562 in 52 games, missing roughly two months of the season after being hit by a pitch in the hand in early June.

While it would not be fair to say that Thompson has been a bust, as expectations were not particularly high to begin with and he has missed a lot of time because of various non-chronic freak injuries, Thompson has not been particularly great as a professional. His most impressive asset in college, his power, simply never translated as a professional, facing better pitchers and using a wood bat. He was never able to hit for a particularly high batting average because of average-at-best bat speed and a swing path that, while not excessively upper-cutty, was designed to maximize launch angle. Ironically, Thompson’s defense was where he improved most as a professional, the weakest aspect of his game. After being drafted, many had doubts to his ability to play third because of his surgically-weakened right throwing arm, but over the years, Thompson has shown himself to be a net neutral defender, showing enough reaction time and range to overcome a below-average arm. He is better suited at first base though, which is where he has spent the majority of his playing time in recent years.

Oscar Rojas

Week: 1 G (1 GS), 9.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (Low-A)

2021 Season: 19 G (18 GS), 96.2 IP, 92 H, 53 R, 50 ER (4.66 ERA), 33 BB, 90 K, .327 BABIP (Low-A/High-A)

In 56.0 innings since the end of June, when Rojas was Pitcher of the Week the first time, the right-hander has 4.98 ERA, allowing 52 hits, walking 19, and striking out 56. Home runs have been an issue, as he has allowed at least one homer in four of those nine starts, and multiple homers in three of those four.

While this is Rojas’ third complete game of the season, this was his first “real” complete game. His pitched his first complete game this season against the Fort Myers Mighty Muscles in early June, but that game was ended early due to rain and limited to five innings. He pitched his second complete game in 2021 against the Dunedin Blue Jays in late June, but that game the first contest in a doubleheader and was seven innings. Not only was Rojas’ complete game this past week his first nine inning complete game, but it was his first Maddux, as he needed only 86 pitches to go all nine. The Jupiter Hammerheads were extremely aggressive, and the right-hander needed only four pitches to retire the side in the third, eight to retire the side in the fifth, six pitches to retire the side in the seventh, and five to retire the side in the eighth.

Rojas is a pitcher who uses an assortment of pitches and is hard to prepare for because his pitch use percentages can vary wildly from start to start. In this particular start, he threw 86 total pitches, throwing 33 sinkers (38%), 18 curveballs (21%), 18 changeups (21%), and 17 four-seam fastballs (20%). In his last start, which came on August 27th against the Daytona Tortugas, he threw 82 pitches, throwing 36 changeups (44%), 30 sinkers (30%), 12 curveballs (15%), and 4 four-seam fastballs (5%). In his last start against the Hammerheads, which came on June 18, he threw 83 pitches, throwing 43 changeups (52%), 21 sinkers (25%), 16 curveballs (19%), and 3 four-seam fastballs (4%).

Players of the Week 2021

Week One (May 4-May 8): Francisco Alvarez/Tylor Megill

Week Two (May 9-May 15): Antoine Duplantis/Tylor Megill

Week Three (May 16-May 23): Francisco Alvarez/Franklin Parra

Week Four (May 24-May 30): Mason Williams/Franklyn Kilome

Week Five (June 1-June 6): Brett Baty/Alec Kisena

Week Six (June 8-June 13): Carlos Cortes/Josh Walker

Week Seven (June 15-June 20): Luke Ritter/ Justin Lasko

Week Eight (June 22-June 27): Mark Vientos/Oscar Rojas

Week Nine (June 29-July 4): Mark Vientos/David Griffin

Week Ten (July 6-July 11): Jaylen Palmer/J.T. Ginn

Week Eleven (July 13-July 18): Jaylen Palmer/Connor Grey

Week Twelve (July 20-July 25): Jose Peroza/Justin Lasko

Week Thirteen (July 27-August 1): Mark Vientos/Josh Walker

Week Fourteen (August 3-August 8): Jake Mangum/Adam Oller

Week Fifteen (August 10-August 15): Jake Mangum/Adam Oller

Week Sixteen (August 17-August 22): Jose Peroza/Cole Gordon

Week Seventeen (August 24-August 29): Luis Gonzalez/Cole Gordon