Checking in at number 18 on the Pittsburgh Pirates top 30 prospects list for 2019 is a fast rising starting pitching prospect
Last November, the Pittsburgh Pirates swung a five-player trade with the Cleveland Indians. This trade included three MLB players being moved as outfielder Jordan Luplow and infielder Max Moroff wen to the Indians, while the Tribe sent utility man Erik Gonzalez to the Bucs.
This trade also included a pair of young power arms coming to the Pirates. These pitchers were Tahnaj Thomas and Dante Mendoza. After a strong 2019 campaign, Thomas is beginning to emerge as one of the Pirates top pitching prospects.
The 20-year-old Thomas grew up in the Bahamas playing shortstop. However, when he signed with the Indians he started to focus on pitching. Thus far this has proven to be a wise choice by Thomas.
In 2019 Thomas pitched for the short-season Bristol Pirates where he made 12 starts. Thomas pitched 48 1/3 innings in these 12 starts, both of which were new career highs. His 29.5% strikeout rate was the second highest of his professional career, while his 7.0% walk rate was the lowest.
Thomas limited opposing batters to a .217 batting average and he allowed just 5 home runs. When the season ended, he owned a 3.17 ERA and a 3.67 FIP. The 2019 season was a very strong age 20 season for Thomas.
The Bahamas native throws a fastball that sits in the mid-90s. He also throws a low-80s slider that has great bite and is quickly developing into a plus pitch. Thomas also throws a change up, however, that is a pitch that very much so remains a work in progress.
In 2020, the Pirates would love to see Thomas make the jump to Low-A Greensboro. Getting there in his age 21 season, especially as a converted infielder, would be a nice step on the growth and development of Thomas.