By Todd Johnson
2016 was a great year for Fresno State’s Ricky Tyler Thomas. With a 2.16 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP in 104 innings, the slender left-handed starter led the Mountain West Conference in strikeouts with 108. In addition, he only walked 16 all season. Thomas parlayed that experience into playing USA baseball for the collegiate national team where he was named their player of the year.
The first thing you notice about Thomas is he does not look very big. He’s a little bit bigger than Carl Edwards, but I think I’m being a little generous. At 6 foot 1 inch and 175 pounds, Thomas generates an 88 to 90 mph fastball. However, with deception, it sneaks up on the hitter in what seems like 94 to 95 miles an hour. He gets a lot of ugly swings and a lot of pop-ups because of that deception.
His arsenal also includes a curve on a 10 to 2 plane in the upper 70s. He also throws a changeup that dives down and in, also in the upper 70s.
He has been fantastic in his first three starts this year. He’s struck out 33 in 21.1 IP with a 1.27 ERA and has allowed only 8 hits.
This Week’s Profile
6’ 1” and 185 lbs
Quick to the plate
Experience in USA baseball
Areas of Concern
What Others Say
The University of Oregon and USA Baseball coach George Horton said the following about Thomas:
“He throws easy. The ball comes out of his hand sneaky fast,” said manager George Horton, who is the head coach at Oregon. “I think he’s a guy that projects for me because it’s very easy. It’s not a max effort thing. He’s under control.”
I don’t know about whether he will be a starter or a reliever as a pro. He’s only 20 and he’s also extremely athletic which bears watching all spring.
Currently, he’s not in the top 50 prospects in major-league baseball, but based on his summer with USA Baseball and his starts in 2017, Thomas is definitely an ascending prospect.
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Last week’s profile, David Peterson of Oregon, struck out 17 last night for Oregon.