Thompson takes example from Porcello
Rick Porcello made a pretty good case for a spot here in Minnesota for the All-Star festivities. His presence might still have ended up at Target Field, at least for the Futures Game.
Porcello is enjoying a career breakout season at age 25, but he’s apparently serving as a role model already. When former Tigers top pick Jake Thompson went through a rough stretch, he indirectly turned to Porcello for ideas.
“I actually had a stretch of not-bad starts, but down starts for me, three starts in a row that weren’t as clean as I’d like them,” Thompson explained Sunday. “And it was about the same time as he threw those back-to-back complete games. And I really watched what he was doing. He was just throwing his two-seam down, get that sink down in the zone, get the ball put in play.
“I actually took that into my next start after that. It works. He’s the kind of guy I think I can be similar to. But there’s a lot of stuff from guys I try to watch.”
Thompson pitched seven innings of three-run ball last week, though he gave up two home runs in the process after giving up one homer in his previous 15 starts combined.
“I guess I’ve been a little bit lucky,” Thompson said of the low home-run total. “My two-seam has a little bit of sink to it, which helps. But there’s a lot of good luck.”
Thompson has also learned a lot — directly, in this case — from a former Tigers pitcher, Mike Maroth, these days the pitching coach at Class A Lakeland.
“What’s really cool about Mike,” Thompson said, “is when he played, he didn’t have overpowering stuff. He was a really soft thrower, so he knows kind of some crafty ways that a lot of people wouldn’t know about getting people out as far as alignment on the rubber and all that. Most people overlook, but it can really help you if you pay attention to it.
“His big thing with me is I’m naturally on the field a little bit high-strung. He preaches calm, to slow everything down. That’s really the huge thing. That actually helps tremendously. He preaches, ‘Don’t go out there and get pumped up in the first. Get pumped up in the seventh.'”
That composure makes a difference.
“I used to go out and get too wired,” he said. “Now I’ve got it pretty good. I’m just sticking with what I can control — throwing two seams, mixing in breaking balls. I’m not the guy who goes out there and tries to light up the radar gun. I’m not going to hit 100. I stick with what makes me successful.”
Thompson, in case you missed it, earned the win in Sunday’s Futures Game by striking out both of the batters he faced. One of them was fellow Tigers prospect Steven Moya.