Quick Hit: Grading Trent Thornton, The Blue Jays’ Newest Prospect (Acquired for Aldemys Diaz)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

In acquiring Aldemys Diaz, who will likely step in as the replacement for Marwin Gonzalez, the Astros parted ways with right-handed pitcher Trent Thornton sending him to the Toronto Blue Jays.  No one is going to confuse Thornton with an elite pitching prospect, though he at least showed a little something while throwing 124.1 innings at Triple-A last season:

  • Strikeout Rate – 8.83 K/9 (11.4% SwStr%)
  • Walk Rate – 2.24 BB/9
  • Groundball Rate – 41.6%

A fifth round selection in 2015, it will be interesting to see if he has the stuff to thrive in the rotation long-term.  Listed at 6’0” and 175 lbs., there are going to be questions as to if the now 25-year old will be able to handle a starter’s workload.

You also have this little writeup from MLB.com, which further adds to that concern:

Thornton has a funky delivery but it gives him deception and doesn’t prevent him from filling the strike zone. With solid stuff and strike-throwing ability, he has the ingredients to become at least a No. 4 starter. But he often gets hit harder than he should, so his long-term role may be as a multi-inning reliever.

The notes about being hit hard can’t be ignored, especially as you look at his line drive rates in the minor leagues in recent years:

  • 2016 – 28.0%
  • 2017 – 24.6%
  • 2018 – 23.6%

Now you throw in the potential to be burned by the long ball, especially moving into the AL East, and it’s hard to get excited.  He seems destined to be shifted to the bullpen, and while he should make his MLB debut at some point in 2019 don’t expect much of an impact.

Current Grade – C-

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com

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Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
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Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
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