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Lakeland's Thompson extends hot start
Tigers' No. 4 prospect gaining confidence, powers past Threshers
04/11/2014 11:35 PM ET
Jake Thompson led Class A West Michigan with 91 strikeouts last season. (Tom Hagerty/MiLB.com)

Heading into his second full Minor League campaign, Jake Thompson brought a new sense of comfort and confidence to the mound. On Friday night, he extended his season-opening scoreless streak to 11 2/3 innings as Class A Advanced Lakeland blanked visiting Clearwater, 2-0.

"I had good command of my fastball and my curveball, [but] my changeup got away from me a little," Thompson said after limiting the Threshers to four hits over 6 2/3 innings. "Anytime my guys can score any runs, it's great. [Second baseman] Dixon Machado is playing great, Tyler Hanover [is] playing well at third."

The Tigers' No. 4 prospect fanned five batters and walked two, six days after striking out seven over five two-hit innings in his Florida State League debut.

After averaging 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings for Class A West Michigan last season, Thompson (2-0) headed into the offseason looking to improve his fastball command as well as his concentration on the mound.

"Last year was my first Spring Training, so this year I knew what I was getting myself into," the 20-year-old right-hander said. "When I started throwing, I really concentrated. It sounds funny, but just trying to hit my partners in the chest has helped. My off-speed [stuff] has always been good, [but] my fastball command has been a whole lot better this year."

The 2012 second-round pick said he's found the Florida State League to be similar to the Midwest League, except that opposing lineups are better top to bottom -- something he tries to combat mentally.

"I want to come out and be confident," Thompson said. "It's a pretty good spot here for me in Lakeland. I played with most of these guys last year, so that makes it better. Just have to concentrate and make my pitches."

Thompson gave way to Brennan Smith, who allowed one hit over the final 2 1/3 innings for his first save of the season.

Lance Durham and Jeff McVaney each plated a run for the Flying Tigers, while Chad Wright went 3-for-4 for his first multi-hit game of the year.

Threshers starter Miguel Nunez (0-1) took the loss after allowing two runs on nine hits over six innings. He struck out four.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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