Trayce Thompson 'is a big-league player,' Ventura says

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Trayce Thompson’s left elbow injury isn’t serious, which brought a collective sigh of relief to the White Sox camp Tuesday.

The Sox aren’t exactly bulging at the seams with position player prospects, but Thompson, a 2009 second-round draft choice who is batting .377 with four home runs, a .424 on-base percentage and a .629 slugging percentage in 26 games since getting called up in early August, is giving them something to hang their hat on.

When he came up lame after an awkward landing on a diving attempt at Brett Lawrie’s double leading off the ninth, manager Robin Ventura had one of those “what can go wrong next?” moments.

“It didn’t look good,’’ Ventura said.

“It’s good enough where he can move it and it should be a couple days [out], if that.’’

Exactly where Thompson fits in on the 2016 roster is to be determined but Ventura has seen enough in spring trainings past and these last two months to know he’s ready for the show.

“Yeah, he’s a big league player,’’ Ventura said.

“You look at him and he’s a more mature kid, he’s filled out, he’s stronger, more confident, all those things of putting in your time in the minor leagues and getting that experience and when you get up here, he’s taking advantage of that opportunity and understanding what he can do and he’s confident he can do it.’’

Thompson might be the best center fielder in the organization, but he hit .237 at AA Birmingham in 2014 and .260 at AAA Charlotte this year, and there concerns about a long swing.

“He can cut down,’’ Ventura said. “You’re looking at him not only using the whole field but the power, even going to center field. He can play all three outfield positions, run the bases, everything that he can do. But it’s part of feeling confident enough to do it, having enough reps where he’s at so when he gets up here it’s not a fluke that he’s a good player. How much he’s going to take it and go with it, that’s always going to be up to him. But is he a big league player? Yeah, he’s a big league player.’’

Thompson, 24, carries himself like a big leaguer, but not in a took-big-for-his-britches way. Perhaps because he’s from a family of former and current NBA stars.

“It’s a very humbling game so you just have to be the same guy every day,’’ he said. “That’s something I take pride in. Nobody is perfect and that’s what we all strive to be personality-wise in this game, to take the highs with the highs and the lows with the lows and just try to be the same guy all the time. I struggled just as much in the minor leagues as any guy in here so I think that has helped me a lot.’’

Now that he’s here, he might be more relaxed than ever.

“In the minor leagues you try so hard to get here, and once you get here it’s almost a relief and you just go play,’’ he said. “It’s kind of like a weight lifted off your shoulders. It’s been a lot of fun.’’

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.


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