Sunday, March 07, 2010

Aaron Thompson--Refreshing--Gets It

The day before the spring training games began for Our Washington Nationals, Aaron Thompson was leaving the practice fields in Viera, Florida, basically unnoticed by fans waiting for autographs from other players in camp. As he walked by, The African Queen and I said hello and it led to as refreshing of a conversation with a young man that you could have. Acquired last July from The Florida Marlins for Nick Johnson--the 23-year old lefty possesses a fastball that reaches the low 90's and a deceptive change-up which he showed off fashionably yesterday at Space Coast Stadium against The New York Mets. Aaron Thompson was the best pitcher on the mound during Our Washington Nationals Spring Home Opener. We were not surprised--after Number 65 in your scorecard turned out to be one of the most unexpectedly good chats this spring on Nats320.

Thompson just gets it.

And Aaron credits The Marlins for bringing him this far.

“Coming over from The Marlins, they’ve always taken great pride in developing their pitchers and getting them ready for the big leagues. That’s what I joked about with some of my coordinators with The Marlins. They (Florida) had put in all the work and now, The Nationals, are going to get the benefit. I believe The Marlins have always been good at that (developing pitching). But when you look around at this staff, there are a few Marlins here too. It is extremely important to soak up all you can wherever you are until you find somebody that is going to give you an opportunity--like hopefully The Nationals will do for me.”

With The Marlins being so successful in developing pitching--would that also be a lost opportunity for you there? (Nats320)

“No, not for me. I think it is a lost opportunity for them. They spent all the money. They spent all the time to teach me how to be a professional. And how to have success in professional baseball. Unfortunately, that’s just a part of the game going from one team to another. Now since I am here (in Washington), I think it’s pretty cool I may have a leg up on some of these guys just because I have seen more of the (minor) leagues. Some of these guys have only been in The Nationals Organization--and not that they are missing anything--but the more you can soak up from more people--I think the better off you will be.”

You have a different way of looking at things. (Nats320)

“Well, understand, it’s humbling too. Coming over from a team that had a lot of younger guys (Marlins) who are developing and establishing themselves, then you come into this clubhouse--Adam Dunn’s been around the league for a long time. Eddie Guardado's been around the leagues for a long time. Shawn Estes--all these guys. It’s neat to be around them, but it’s also kind of humbling. I have to remember, as excited as I am, I need to shut up and listen. (laughing) They don’t talk much. I do a lot of the talking. But when they do, you know it’s something valuable you need to remember.”

“I also believe the Nationals do that by design (veteran presence). All they talked about this off-season was getting veterans in here who could teach us how to be big leaguers. I have zero big league time and I want 10 years--plus. And the only way to do that is to learn from guys who have 10 years of experience, or are around putting in those many years. And see how they did it because it’s not a secret. Some guys say there is a method to doing it. And to a ‘t’, it may not be exactly what I need to do--but it worked for them so there must be something to check out and take home.”

You have a really good attitude--confidence too. Where do you see yourself moving up in this organization then? (Nats320)

“I am really blindfolded right now. Until the games start going, it’s really going to be tough for me to see where I stand. The more opportunities they give me to throw against big league hitters, the better I will feel about what they are considering for me. But that’s totally up to them, and wherever I fall, I will be grateful to be here. You see a lot of guys this time of year lose their uniforms. And fortunately, I don’t think I am in that position as far as my career ending here. But, sometimes it feels like your career is ending when they send you back down to the minor leagues. (all of us busting out laughing--throwing up his hands) You feel like you are back to where you were before.”

Has Mike Rizzo or Bob Boone said anything to you? (Nats320)

“Honestly, I haven’t talked to them much since I was traded here. I think they go get their players and once we are in the system--it’s time for them to let all their people (coordinators, minor league coaches) they have hired to train us and get us ready to do our jobs--hopefully in the big leagues.”

Aaron Thompson's performance against The New York Mets yesterday was the most refreshing pitching aspect of the game for Our Washington Nationals. A starting reference point in his bid to be noticed. As the spring training games continue, Aaron Thompson might be one of the most interesting young pitchers not named Strasburg and Storen to watch. He gets the team approach to development. But does that confidence help him reach the big leagues in 2010?

His opening day of spring work on the mound certainly raised some eyebrows.

Thompson Photo Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

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