Material on Razzball about Lane Thomas is scant to say the least, also scant is to say the least, coincidentally. When you search all mentions of Lane Thomas here, you see me, Prospect Mike, JKJ, Prospect Ralph, and Big Magoo all mentioning him once. And barely. The largest entry of all three is from Prospect Mike saying, “Thomas put up outstanding numbers AA and AAA in 2018 – 27 homers, 17 steals. The damper is that this power burst came out of the clear blue sky and most reports still have him pegged as a fourth outfielder in the big leagues. Another glitch is his health history – which isn’t exactly…healthy. He’s on the 40-man and could see some action this summer in St. Louis, and Grey is a total loser.” Wow, what did I ever do? Prospect Mike was talking about Lane Thomas for last year too, by the by, so he was right. About Thomas seeing some action, not about me! C’mon! Last year in a small sample, he hit 4 HRs, stole one bag and hit .316 with only a .308 BABIP, which was in 38 ABs. That was after a 10/11/.268 year in Triple-A in 265 ABs. He fractured his wrist in August, which cut his breakout short, so Mike was right about his health history too. Being about 11 months since that wrist injury, he should be totally fine. So, what should we expect from Lane Thomas for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a great dart throw?
I briefly mentioned Big Magoo in the opening, but, I trust his opinion, and he’s the impetus for this post, if I’m being honest. He likes Lane Thomas more than anyone I know, so it made me want to dig in on him (Lane, not Magoo — though, I dug in on Magoo too and found some very interesting–okay, kidding). I thought initially Lane Thomas was a clothing store for plus-size women. Turns out he has nothing to do with plus-sized women (that I know of, but to each his own and one love), he does have plus-defense though, so that could take him into the lineup if there’s a NL DH that moves Carpenter or Fowler out of there, and the NL DH seems like a foregone conclusion at this point. At 24 years old, Thomas has roughly a 55/55 grade power and speed, which could mean *on tippy-toes* 20/20 in a full season, which obviously has value. Watching some video of him, he doesn’t have big-time power, but he was able to muscle an inside pitch that jammed him out of the park for a grand slam last year, and another one (his first career homer) that he didn’t seem to get all of, but hit it out to the opposite field. Those made me think he could sneak into 12 homers in a shortened season. In 100 games, Steamer sees roughly a 12/10/.245 season from him. One interesting note, Thomas has moved in the right direction with what you want to see: more walks, less Ks. At one point in the Jays’ organization, he was striking out more than 30% of the time and walking barely 8% of the time. With the Cards, that went over 10% of the time on walks and only 18.2% of the time with the Cards last year, and regularly around 23% strikeout rate in Cards’ minor league organization. While batting average can be fluky based on luck, a .245 average seems to be selling him short. So, to recap, he hits the ball hard enough for power, has begun taking walks, cutting down on swings and misses and, oh yeah, he can steal bases. Could see him getting regular at-bats and surprising the world with a 15/15/.270 line in 2020. That is likely his ceiling for a shortened season, but well within the realm of excellent dart throws.