Today the Pittsburgh Pirates (Nationals North?) claimed LHP Aaron Thompson on waivers. Clearly the Nationals DFA'ed him several days ago, a la Chico, and it was only found out because the Pirates claimed him. Initially this looks like a great move for the Pirates and a not smart move for the Nats, as the home-team has given up a top 23 year-old lefty whose as recently as last year was listed a #8 in the FanGraphs Nationals Top 10 Prospects.
Thompson had an interesting history with the Nationals organization, having come over here during the 2009 season in the Nick Johnson trade to the Fish. At the time he was a 22 year-old lefty from Florida, making his was through the Marlins Farm System. He came out of High School and was drafted 22nd overall in the 2005 First Year Player Draft.
Over the years his stats have been very back and forth, but one main problem has been evident; he has struggled with the higher levels of the minors. In 2008 Thompson had a 5.62 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP in AA Jacksonville. Held back another year by the Fish, Thompson stayed with the Jacksonville Suns and improved to a 4.11 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP in limited action before he was traded at the deadline. For the rest of the year he pitched for the Nationals at AA Harrisburg where he put up a respectable 3.31 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 6 games.
2010, however, turned out to be a different story. He pitched the entire year with the Senators save 1 mid-April start at AAA Syracuse) and his stats took a nose-dive. In 26 starts he had a dreadful 4-13 record with a 5.80 ERA and 1.58 WHIP, while his BB/9 ratio ballooned to a career high 5.40 walks per 9 innings. Some other bad stats are a career high HR allowed (16), career high walks (53), and a career high runs allowed by 34 more runs (88 vs previous high 54).
Last year could prove to be an aberration in the young career of Aaron Thompson, or it could be a sign of things to come. The Nats obviously believe it was the latter. For now, Thompson goes to the Pirates, joining Joel Hanrahan and Scott Olsen, in the city where careers go to die.