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Many fans say we need help in the outfield. They point to Harrison Bader's offensive woes since his rookie campaign. They recognized his defensive worth but are rightfully worried about his offensive production. Many do admit to the power of Tyler O'Neill as well as his defense. They worry about his strikeout rate. Dexter Fowler, the complaint is that he is 30 points below his career BA, still in the OBP team's upper half. His defense, while adequate, is not near the level of O'Neill or Bader. Then, of course, there is his contract. Dylan Carlson many still consider a can't miss others have shifted to a wait and see. One name that gets dismissed, and I think un-rightfully so, is Lane Thomas.
Where did he come from, and what has he done?
Drafted by the Toronto Blue jays in the 5th round of the 2104 June Amateur draft. Acquired by The Cardinals in July of 2017 for international bonus slot money.
During his 3+ years in the Toronto system, he made it to High A Dundien before being traded to the Cardinals and placed at Palm Beach. His stats in the lower levels .241/.320/.324 18 HRs, 125 RBIs, and stole 42 bases in 264 games.
Lane didn't have much time with palm Beach in 2017. A total of 9 games and 35 ABs going .257/.308/.314 0 HRs and 3 RBIs.
In 2018 he started at AA Springfield, playing in 100 games 384 ABs, .260/.337/.487, 21 HRs, 67 RBIs 13 SB Promoted to AAA Memphis later in the year. 32 games 131 ABs, .275/.321/.496, 6 HRs, 21 RBIs, 4 SB
2019 Starting in AAA Memphis 75 games 265 ABs .268/.352/.460, 10 HRs, 44 RBIs, 11 SB called up by St. Louis. He played in 5 games before breaking his hand, which kept him out almost all of August. He ended up with 34 games, 38 ABs .316/.409/.684, 4 HRs, 12 RBIs, 1 SB.
2020 due to coming down with Covid, he only managed 18 games 36 ABs, .111/.200/.250, 1 HR, 2 RBIs
What is possible for him?
2020 is a year best forgotten, so if you take that out of the equation. Lane Thomas has hit at every level he has played at and has shown good power. I think that Thomas has the potential (in a 550-600 AB season)to hit in the .275/.350/.490 range with 20+ HR power and in the neighborhood of 60-80 RBIs depending on opportunities. His strikeout rate is a little high but not bad, right around 28 percent. He rarely hits into double plays, 1.29%. I also think he could steal 20-30 bases a year. Most IF NOT ALL fans would take that in Left, Center, or Right fields.
Does he fit defensively?
He is also an outstanding fielder in the outfield, particularly in CF, committing just 6 errors in 5 seasons of Minor league ball with 30 Assists and 11 Double Plays in 757 chances. He has good speed in the outfield and can play all three positions. Watching him, he seems to have excellent fly ball instincts and equally as good coming in and going back on the ball. He has an above-average arm. If he were to get a legitimate shot, I think he could a Gold Glove winner.
All he needs is an opportunity.
The question is, will he get the chance? In the last 2 years, he has not had a true opportunity. Had he not had the hand injury in 2019, he might have taken over Center Field from Bader. Last year he just never quite recovered from covid. In true competition, I do believe that lane Thomas could make his way into a starting outfield sport for St. Louis. He has Defense, Speed, arm, power, and hitting ability. I think he can put up good offensive numbers. He could be a 20/20 guy for a number few years, all the while playing outstanding defense.
Those are my thoughts. What do you think?
Please let me know