Height/Weight: 6’1”, 190 lbs
Acquired: 13th Rd 2005
Born: 10/28/86 (Breese, IL)
Why Ranked Here: Thole produced an .808 OPS in the FSL as a 21-year old and then improved on that with a .820 OPS in the AFL. In both leagues, he walked more than he struck out, a feat he has also accomplished in two of his previous two professional seasons. As Thole has matured, he’s started to drive the ball more. In 347 AB in the pitcher friendly Florida State League, Thole had 32 extra base. He had collected just 26 XBH in his previous 591 professional AB. Entering 2008, Thole had played a mere 26 professional games as a catcher. Thus, it is not surprising that early reviews on his defense in St. Lucie were fairly critical. Thole has the arm and the athleticism to learn the footwork for the position, but is not there yet.
2008: After going 1-2 with a walk on the season’s final day, Thole was removed for a pinch-hitter to preserve his .300 batting average. As little as batting average matters, it’s a nice mark for Thole to hang on his resume as he’s proven himself more than ready for AA with the stick.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Thole will hit enough to be an above average regular behind the dish for an MLB team.
On the Flipside: Thole’s defense will not improve to the point that an MLB team will start him everyday behind the plate, and that will leave him as a tweener: not enough D to catch, and not enough O for first.
Projected 2009 Start: AA Binghamton