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Thomas’ skill set makes him a bargain for Blue Jays
Young outfielder turned infielder had successful senior HS season
By Kyle Enright
DUNEDIN, Fla. – Lane Thomas was a steal for the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2014 amateur draft.
The 19-year-old Knoxville, Tenn., native was thrilled when he got the call, and knows Toronto found a sleeper as the early rounds came and went last June.
His outstanding senior year for Knoxville’s Bearden High School was one of the biggest reasons he flew onto the Blue Jays’ radar prior to being selected in the fifth round.
“It was awesome. It was unbelievable,” said Thomas after morning practice at the Bobby Mattick Training Center in Dunedin, Fla. “They got me kind of late.”
Thomas, the 144th overall pick, finished his 41-game senior season hitting .410, with 17 home runs, 40 RBIs, 53 walks, and 57 runs, along with an OBP of .482 in just 100 at bats.
It was a rebound year after a down junior season – and Thomas was thankful.
“I struggled a bit during my junior year,” he said. “I’m glad it happened just because my senior year I was able to get comfortable dealing with the pitches I was getting.”
Knowing the importance of that final high school season and what it meant for his future career as a pro kept Thomas busy during the off-season.
“We didn’t have a great team my junior year, so the next year I got thrown around a lot,” he said.
“It was just different for me going (from) being a fastball guy every pitch to just sitting, so I kind of had to work on some things.”
While patience at the plate was something he had to develop during each off-season, versatility on defence has been a challenge Thomas, a natural outfielder, has welcomed throughout his career.
“I played a little infield my sophomore year too,” he said. “Then I got moved into the outfield because I pitched a lot.”
Thomas spent last season with Bluefield Blue Jays in the Rookie-Class Appalachian League and the Rookie-Class Gulf Coast Jays with 12 doubles, four triples, a homer and 19 RBIs, while batting .281 with a .767 OPS in 52 games.
Working out this spring with Bluefield, he has the ability to take any position he’s given and adapt quickly – a skill that has not gone unnoticed during spring training.
“They got me playing a little second base and I really like it,” he said.