When your father's a former two-time NBA champion and your brother just had a breakout season for the Golden State Warriors, it can be difficult to carry the athletic mantle in the family.
Trayce Thompson did his best on Father's Day, and he knew his dad, Mychal Thompson, was proud.
The White Sox's No. 2 prospect belted two home runs and collected five RBIs, and his second roundtripper sparked a five-run ninth that culminated in a 9-8 win for Double-A Birmingham over Jackson. He was 3-for-5 on the day.
"I called [my dad] before I went to the field, and he told me he was going to be listening. As soon as the game finished, I was thinking about him and his thoughts," said Thompson. "So far, it's been a pretty great year for him as a father. I'm just trying to catch up to Klay, so to speak."
The 2009 second-rounder spent most of last year in the Class A Advanced Carolina League, but also saw action with the Barons and Triple-A Charlotte. He finished the campaign with 25 homers and 21 stolen bases. His home runs Sunday bring his 2013 total to eight, and after entering May with a .191 average, he's boosted it up to .255.
"I've kept the same approach. I tinkered with a couple things in my swing, but not really. I felt like in April I was hitting the ball pretty good, I just wasn't finding any holes. I haven't changed much," Thompson said. "I've been fortunate enough to find a few more holes. I'm trying to go out there and have fun, and thankfully, the results have started to follow in May and June."
The Barons claimed a first-half division title Monday, and Thompson believes a come-from-behind win at the end of the week speaks volumes about the team.
"We're a pretty tough team to beat. We're a talented team and not just guys, but we have a great coaching staff and our trainer Shawn Powell," he said. "We're a team that can persevere through stuff. Our pitchers have been great, and we have a lot of the same guys as last year. That helps us chemistry-wise and we're having a lot of fun, which is probably an important part of winning."
In the third inning, Thompson came to bat after Generals starter Chance Ruffin struck out the first two hitters in the frame. Thompson quickly fell behind, 0-2.
"I was just trying not to do too much. Ruffin is a great pitcher. ... But this time, he left a fastball over the plate," Thompson said. "He'd been throwing sliders and breaking stuff, and I was looking for a fastball. I wouldn't say I got all of it. The wind was blowing out, so the conditions helped me a bit."
Facing Ruffin again in the fifth, this time with fellow Top 20 White Sox prospects Marcus Semien and Keenyn Walker aboard, Thompson plated Semien with a line-drive single off Ruffin's first pitch.
"It was a changeup. Since they got me out earlier with off-speed stuff and then I hit that fastball, I was expecting something off-speed," he explained.
In the seventh, Thompson lined out directly to Generals second baseman Patrick Brady. He came to the plate with Semien and Walker on base again with one out in the ninth against Jackson reliever Moises Hernandez.
"That lineout to second was probably my best swing of the game, so I felt pretty comfortable in the box by then," Thompson said. "I saw his slider early, then I saw his fastball on the next pitch, and I knew those were going to be the pitchers I was going to get. He left a slider floating over the middle."
Thompson crushed it over the bleacher seats in left field.
"The game wasn't over then. We still had a goal, to win." he said.
Semien scored three times and worked three walks. Jered Mitchell, the White Sox's No. 5 prospect, entered the game as a pinch-runner in the ninth, stole a base and scored the winning run.