“He’s going to break down that door soon” – The Athletic


Last year, the Diamondbacks tied Alek Thomas’s hand behind his back and asked him to clap.

It was early June and Thomas had been raking. Only 21 years old, he had enjoyed double-A pitches at .958 OPS in May, cementing his status as the consensus top 50 prospect in the game. But then the organization gave him a directive. From then on, they told him, he could not swing on a court until there was a strike in the count.

Thomas had not been chosen for special torture. This mandate applied to every Diamondbacks hitter from Double A up and only their first at-bats of a game, with the idea of ​​improving their approaches to the plate. But for Thomas, an aggressive thug by nature, it felt like someone had stolen a kidney. It hurt him every time a fastball sailed through the zone on the first pitch, only for his bat to sink splinters into his shoulder.

“You would have thought we would have taken the bat away from him,” said Josh Barfield, director of the Diamondbacks farm.

These days, as Thomas and several dozen other Arizona minor leagues get together for a mini-camp at Salt River Fields, the top prospect doesn’t feel so strong. “I was persistent,” Thomas admitted on Wednesday. It may have struggled through a mediocre few months – beating 0.241/0.339/0.420 in June and July – but it has been for its own good.

It forced him to learn to hit other kinds of pitches. It made him realize that even after being struck, he could fight his way through bats and get to the base. He was still walking in 10.7 percent of his record appearances and banging only 20 percent of the time.


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