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August 14, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Scouting Scratch: Jake Thompson and Brett Netzer

LOWELL, Mass. -- One of the last members of the 2017 draft class to sign, right-hander Jake Thompson made his professional debut on August 3 against Hudson Valley, a team boasting one of the more prospect-laden lineups in the New York-Penn League. Thompson only threw one inning, featuring all four of his pitches over the 21-pitch outing. He allowed three hits—all on weak contact—and two runs while striking out two.

Thompson is listed at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and has a filled-out frame with a thick lower half. He will be 23 in September, making him old for a 2017 draftee, and doesn’t have much physical projection remaining. Thompson threw exclusively from the stretch, starting on the first base side of the rubber, and has few moving parts to his delivery. He threw from a three-quarters arm slot with some effort and short arm action, and utilized a medium leg kick. He has some deception, hiding the ball behind his body until late. He showed plus arm speed and did a good job keeping his line to the plate. 

Thompson’s fastball sat 94-96 mph. The pitch was on the straight side with average life. He got one swinging strike with the pitch on his final pitch of the evening, at 94 mph, up-and-in against a right-handed hitter. 

Thompson complimented his fastball with a slider, changeup, and curveball. His slider showed the most potential of the three, though he also missed bats with his changeup. Thompson’s slider worked 86-87 mph, flashing plus potential with depth and late bite. The pitch had two-plane, 10-to-4 break, and he showed feel for the offering. He got two swinging strikes with the pitch and the first strikeout of his career against Brendan McKay, the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft. 

The pitch sequence in the McKay at-bat was especially impressive. Thompson started the left-handed hitter off with an 85-mph changeup down in the zone for a swinging strike. He followed with a 96-mph fastball inside for a ball and another at 96 that McKay fouled off. Thompson then buried an 87-mph slider down-and-in for a swinging third strike. The pitch showed good depth, starting in the zone before falling off the table and out of the zone towards McKay’s back foot. 

Thompson also featured his changeup prominently, but it was inconsistent. It would flash average-to-better, but otherwise was below average. He threw the pitch 83-86 mph with deceptive arm speed, and it had drop and fade at its best. Other times, it was on the firm side and looked like a fastball he took something off of. He also got two swinging strikes with his changeup, one against a right-handed hitter and one against a left-handed hitter.

Thompson’s curveball lags behind his other secondary offerings. He threw it 73-77 mph, but didn’t snap it off and the pitch was loose. He didn’t show much feel for the pitch and on two occasions—once in warm ups and once in-game—threw the pitch way up and out of his catcher’s reach. The pitch looks like a work in progress and at best a show-me pitch to steal a strike in the future. 

This was only a one-inning look, and even though the stat line doesn’t necessarily show it, Thompson was impressive. His fastball-slider combination could play in a bullpen role, and even potentially allow him to be fast-tracked to the majors in a relief role, but his changeup showed enough potential that it is worth developing him as a starter, at least initially. Given his age, if his development stalls, that his stuff could play up in the bullpen as a backup plan is definitely a plus.


The first college hitter drafted by the Red Sox this year, second baseman Brett Netzer lasted only 22 games in Lowell before a promotion to Greenville. During his time in Lowell, the third-round pick out of UNC Charlotte hit .317/.376/.390 with six doubles and nine walks compared to 20 strikeouts in 94 plate appearances. Since his promotion, Netzer has played in 11 games, hitting .175/.233/.200 in 43 plate appearances. 

Netzer has an average frame, listed at 6-feet, 195 pounds. He has some projection remaining, especially in his upper body. A left-handed hitter, Netzer starts in an open stance with his hands high and active pre-pitch. He utilizes a toe-tap timing device and has above-average bat speed. He tracks the ball well and shows advanced pitch recognition and knowledge of the strike zone. 

Netzer showed solid feel for hit and bat control during his time with Lowell. He has a slight uppercut to his swing and keeps the barrel in the zone a long time. In games scouted, he showed the ability to use all fields, though he didn’t show more than gap power. Netzer doesn’t have a lot of loft in his swing, and over-the-fence power is unlikely to be a major part of his game, especially early in his career. Netzer has average speed, but hasn’t had any success stealing bases thus far, going 0-for-3 in his time with Lowell, although he was successful in his first attempt with the Drive. 

Defensively, Netzer didn’t get much action at second base in the games scouted. He did show average range, and his hands seemed good enough that he should be able to stick there long term, though at this point he doesn’t look like a potential standout defender. 

Given the lack of bats in the Red Sox system, Netzer already is one of its top middle infield prospects. He doesn’t have a high ceiling, but has the potential to stick at second base with an average over power profile. Given he is already in Greenville, he’ll likely start next year in Salem, putting him on an aggressive track that could find him in the high minors at some point next year.

Photo credit: Jake Thompson courtesy of www.osubeavers.com and Brett Netzer by Kelly O'Connor

Ian Cundall is Director of Scouting for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @IanCundall.