2016 was a great year for Fresno State’s Ricky Tyler Thomas (no relation to Jonathan Taylor Thomas). With a 2.16 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP in 104 innings, the slender left-handed starter led the Mountain West Conference with 108 strikeouts. In addition, he only walked 16 all season. Thomas parlayed that experience into playing for USA baseball’s national collegiate team, where he was named their player of the year.
The first thing you notice about Thomas is he does not look very big. At 6′ 1″ and 175 pounds, he’s maybe slightly larger than Carl Edwards Jr., but I think I’m being generous there. Thomas doesn’t have Edwards’ fastball, though he uses deceptio to make an 88-90 mph fastball sneak up on the hitter at what seems like 94-95 or so. He gets a lot of ugly swings and a lot of pop-ups because of that deception.
His arsenal also includes a curve in the upper 70’s on a 10 to 2 plane and a changeup, also in the upper 70’s, that dives down and in.
Ricky Tyler Thomas
6-1, 185 lbs
Quick to the plate
Experience in USA baseball
Areas of Concern
What Others Say
University of Oregon and USA Baseball coach George Horton said the following about Thomas:
“He throws easy. The ball comes out of his hand sneaky fast,” said manager George Horton, who is the head coach at Oregon. “I think he’s a guy that projects for me because it’s very easy. It’s not a max effort thing. He’s under control.”
I don’t know whether Thomas will be a starter or a reliever as a pro. He’s only 20 and has made 12 starts this year, compiling a 4.03 ERA while striking out 87 in 76 IP. He has been roughed up a bit, but opponents have only hit .235 against him. The real issue seems to be his 43 walks and hit batters.
Though he not currently in the top 50 draft prospects, Thomas’s summer with USA Baseball and his starts in 2016 make him one to keep an eye on. He’s probably not first-round material, but could be a guy taken in later rounds who could blossom under professional instruction.