Entering Friday night’s game against the Reading Phillies the New Hampshire Fisher Cats had hit just 11 home runs in 20 games. Fast forward to Monday morning, after a three game sweep of the Phillies, and the Cats suddenly find themselves third in the Eastern League in homers with 19. The eight homers across the three games were just part of an overwhelming offensive attack, as the Cats ran up 32 runs including 16 in Sunday afternoon’s victory.
Leading the way was Eric Thames with three homers and a double accounting for all four of his hits in the series. Over his last 10 games he is hitting a respectable .263(10 for 38) with half of those hits being home runs for a ridiculous .421 isolated slugging percentage(ISO). And to top his weekend off, Thames gunned down Freddy Galvis at the plate with a perfect throw from left field in the ninth inning to end the game.
Overall, through 22 games Thames leads the team in ISO(.267), RBIs(20), home runs(6) and is tied for third in doubles(5). He’s drawn 7 walks in 98 plate appearances(7.1%) which is slightly below the league average of 9.4% while striking out 22 times, a bit more than the league average. That would be the only missing piece at the plate for Thames thus far.
Thames was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the seventh round of the 2008 draft. However, he didn’t make his pro debut until the following year due to injury. In 2009 he wasn’t able to stay healthy all that much either appearing in just 59 games between the Jays’ rookie league team and their advanced Single-A team in Dunedin. That he has played in just 59 pro games before being promoted to Double-A makes his start all that more impressive. The test now for Thames will be to see if he can stay on the field for 120-130 games.
There was a lot to like in those 59 games last season including a .310 batting average and a .481 slugging percentage thanks in large part to 18 doubles and 5 triples in 218 at-bats. He walked in close to ten percent of his at-bats(9.7%), which again, is impressive for his first showing in pro ball.
The home run power he has displayed so far is new, he hit just three all of last season. As is his sudden ability to swipe some bases, after just two steal attempts last season he’s already a perfect four for four. However, the fact that Thames was dealing with or coming back from injuries much of last season was most likely a culprit for the lack of long ball power and certainly sapped some of his speed on the bases as well.
He’s doing it all at the plate, on the bases and in the field right now and at just twenty-three years old Fisher Cats fans seem to be catching Thames in his breakout season.
For more info: cakechow.com’s top minor league baseball prospects for 2010