Pittsburgh Pirates: Rum Bunter’s Top 10 Prospects
By Noah Wright
5. Tahnaj Thomas
When the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Max Moroff and Jordan Luplow to the Cleveland Indians for Erik Gonzalez, Tahnaj Thomas and Dante Mendoza in the 2018-2019 offseason, many probably didn’t think the Pirates might have just traded for a future ace. However, that just might be the case looking at it today.
Thomas was an international signee by the Indians out of the Bahamas in 2017. Thomas showed lots of raw potential in his first two seasons but he struggled with his control. Thomas’ first 58 professional innings spread between 2018 and 2019 across two different levels of baseball saw the raw talent walk 43 batters. He did strike out 61 and allowed six home runs, but the walks were way up.
That’s when Thomas was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In his first season with his new organization, Thomas tossed 48 innings putting up a 3.17 ERA, 3.67 FIP and 1.11 WHIP. He also had a solid 3.49 xFIP showing he was pitching to his skill. The right hander continued to strikeout batters at an impressive rate of 29.5%, and allowed home runs at a 0.9 per 9 rate, but, more notably, his walk rate dropped to just 7%.
Thomas has a very powerful fastball. It has a 70 grade because he averages 92-98 MPH, and can touch triple digits quite often. To pair with his power fastball, Thomas throws a curveball. It sits in the low-to-mid 80s which gives it quite decent speed differentials to his fastball. What makes it so effective is its movement.
FanGraphs gives it a future 60 grade. Although I should note some have also identified his breaking pitch as a slider with wipeout movement, which would still give him a very good secondary pitch. This could mean he has variations of his curveball/slider, which could be very beneficial to the powerful right hander. He recently added it to his arsenal so it only has a current 40 grade by Fangraphs. However, given his raw potential, talent and age (turned 21 in June), he has plenty of time to develop that pitch into an average or better offering.
Many have said that Thomas has closer-like stuff, but he’s stated that he wants to remain in the rotation. If he can stay healthy, and develop his change up into a very usable pitch, he has the ability to be a very underrated starter.