Who is Zack Thornton?

Toby Hyde, Contributor

Friday night, the Mets acquired minor-league relief pitcher Zack Thornton and a player to be named later for 1B Ike Davis.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the second player is “fairly significant,” which means that a full analysis of the trade will have to wait until that player is known.

Thornton is sinker/slider reliever with a funky motion who generated more ground balls in 2013 than he ever had in his professional career. He’s a big right-hander, listed at 6’3″, 220 pounds, who will turn 26 on May 19. The Mets will be his third organization. He originally signed with the A’s as a 23rd round pick out of Oregon in 2010 and was traded to the Pirates for RHP Chris Resop on November 30, 2012.


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According to Brooks Baseball, he owns a three-pitch arsenal, with a sinker that averages 91 mph, a slider at 84 and a changeup at 84.

Thornton split last year between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis.

In Altoona, he ran a 45/7 K/BB ratio in 36 innings. In his 17 outings in Triple-A this year, and last, he owns a 3.31 ERA in 32.2 innings with 29 hits allowed, five walks and 39 strikeouts. In percentage terms, he fanned 28% of opposing hitters and walked only 3.6% of opponents.

Thornton was a member of the Scottsdale Scorpions in 2013 in the Arizona Fall League with Mets farmhands, including Jeurys Familia, Hansel Robles, Cody Satterwhite, Cam Maron, Aderlin Rodriguez and Cory Vaughn.

Heading into the Rule 5 draft last year, Baseball America listed him under the “Players Who Can Help Now” category and described him as a “Reliever with a funky delivery gets loads of groundballs and features excellent control” in the publication’s Rule 5 Draft preview.

Thornton took his groundball tendencies to new heights or perhaps new grass-level lows in 2013. After groundball percentages of 43% in 2011, mostly in Burlington in the Midwest League with Oakland and 45% in 2012 mostly with Stockton, he forced groundballs on 47% of opponents’ plate appearances in Altoona with the Pirates and then 51% of the time in Triple-A. The league average groundball rate was 42% in the Eastern League and 43% in the International League.

A shoulder injury in his junior year at Oregon held him to 23.1 innings and a 6.17 ERA, but he bounced back to put up a 3.40 ERA over 12 starts and five relief appearances as a senior to earn honorable mention All-Pac 10.

Thornton is not on the Mets’ 40-man roster, so the team now has an open spot.

He should head to Triple-A Las Vegas where he will hop into an immediate competition with Vic Black to be the next right-handed reliever called up to reinforce the Mets’ bullpen.

He’s on Twitter at @Thortythort30. Be nice.




98 comments
Grendal
Grendal

The Mets cut payroll by trading Davis.  It gives them flexibility.  It's better to have flexibility than to win.  

sabometrics
sabometrics

@AVSNY The longer we don't know who the PTBNL is the stronger we have to assume it's a 2013 draftee, right?

Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart

  A simple case of two players not reaching their potential and both needed a change...Mets have been trying to trade Davis since last winter...I guess this is the best they could do.

Bill Russell
Bill Russell

move was only made so Wilpon can make an extra million. How did that improve the major league club. they had at worst a feared left handed  pinch hitter and backup first baseman. I am tired of waitingf for promises of the young and inexpensive player.The management lost Ike for money reasons only/ Watch how he plays in Pitts. They are trying to sell us with their statistics but maybe they should treat their players as humans instead of numbers. They have created a bad atmosphere around the clubhouse. The major league players see a home run hitter gone and a rule 5 rejectee in the minors.I am losing patience with management afte r52 years as a Met fan.








cruzmatic
cruzmatic

I WAS  SO  SAD  TOO  SEE  US  LOSE  2  GAMES   BACK   TOO  BACK  TOO   THE  TEAM   WHO'S   NOW   In  first  place  the   braves   I  FEEL   WE   HAD   THEM   WITH'EN  ONE  RUN   THEN   THE   HOMER  I  FEEL  OUR  BULL  PEN  MAY   BE   HEADED  FOR   TROUBLE   WE  CAN  WIN  SOME  GAMES   THAT  MAY  BE   CLOSE   BUT   W'E  MUST   PRODUCE   RUNS  MORE   OFTEN    WHEN   WERE  LOSING   WERE   THE  BEST   WITH   WHAT   WE   GOT  WERE  THE  BEST   I   SEE   I M   HOPING   FOR  THE  BEST   BUT  I'M   WORRIED

Robert Crawford III
Robert Crawford III

Glad to have him. Davis sucked. Thornton should be in the bullpen now.

philj
philj

My only objection is the way the FO handled this...if Sandy Alderson gets a new hitting coach, and new pitching coach...the mets would be better...we have the talent everywhere but at ss...can be addressed with drew and granderson needs to attack first pitch fastballs

eric88
eric88

PTBNL might be JaCoby Jones, college draftee C.F. in College, moved to SS last July in A Ball by Pirates. 6th round pick

joea
joea

Ike Davis was never going to succeed in New York. He desperately needed a change of scenery. I think he will go on to Pittsburgh and put together a decent to good year. People will compare his stats and say the Mets never should have gotten rid of him but whatever he does in Pittsburgh wouldn't have been done here. People want a top prospect for a guy that got demoted last year and hit .227 and .205 the last 2 years. He has power, yes. So does Lucas Duda. I'm not saying Duda is the answer but him and Ike are very similar players. Thornton seems like a decent piece. A ground ball machine with great control. Reminds me of a pivotal piece to the bullpen in 2006, maybe like a chad Bradford? He's not great obviously, he is 26 and still in AAA so something is wrong. You can never have too many arms. Also, it seems the centerpiece of the deal is the PTBNL. I'll hope out for Meadows but probably not. It's a good deal for both teams.

ron3d2y
ron3d2y

It's amazing that anyone has a problem with this trade. Guy was so terrible last year he deserved to just be cut, but now all of a sudden everyone acts like they just traded away an amazing player wishing they gave him a chance. Excuse me? I didn't realize we never gave Ike a chance, we actually gave him 2 full seasons and this spring training to prove he still deserved to be here and he didn't.


The guy came up as a rookie and had success, had an unlucky injury, the league adjusted to him, and he didn't adjust back. Guy had some power, big deal, lots of guys do. Don't let one season of 30 home runs cloud your judgement, look at the rest of his numbers and he simply is not that good of a hitter. You're telling me we get a decent relief pitcher (something we have very few of) and potentially another good prospect who's even better than this relief pitcher? and you're going to somehow complain about this?


It's truly indicative of the state this franchise is in when it's fans actually have to complain about getting rid of a player as bad as Ike Davis. I certainly had enough of watching this guy get every chance to be the starter here and fail and I'm glad the Mets finally did too. Thornton looks like a guy who could come up to help the bullpen right away, which we really need, and whoever this PTBNL is will only make this trade even better.

Ed
Ed

I'm not an Alderson supporter but his trade history with the Mets has been pretty good, aside from Pagan for Torres and Ramirez....Nobody though the Mets can get Wheeler for Beltran but he did, so if the Mets can get LHP Blake Taylor, SS/OF Jacoby Jones and Cody Dickson that’s a good get.


Taylor is probably the safest bet of the three – with a chance to have higher upside if his velocity ticks up. Dickson seems a bit like Mets lefty Steven Matz, who is currently dominating in High-A, and Jones seems like the wild card of the bunch high upside but low floor.


Matthew Hochman
Matthew Hochman

So basically we just assured ourselves that Duda goes on the 60 day DL within the next week...(not like I'm a pessimist or anything).      In all seriousness though,  I wish Ike the best in Pittsburgh,  And hopefully the PTNL ends up being someone who can help us.

Jeff Robins
Jeff Robins

My only other guess would be SS Jordy Mercer. Don't want Barnes.

MMIAA
MMIAA

vic blacks roommate.............they both suck

7up17_2go
7up17_2go

"the second player if fairly significant"...which means this guy is insignificant.

grillruben
grillruben

I would have liked to see Davis get the shot over Duda, but I'm glad they finally made some sort of decision at the very least. I don't think Ike or Duda, or Satin for that matter are the solution. I wouldn't be shocked if Ike goes on to hit 30 hr and become a nice player for the Pirates, but I don't think he was ever doing it in NY.


Typical mishandling of the situation. I think this shows that there was never really any interest in Ike at any point and I wish they would have just got rid of Davis before the season and gave Duda 1b all of Spring Training. Clearly they were done with Davis.

buddyryan
buddyryan

Ike has hit .227 and .208 the last 2 seasons...and we're acting like we just traded away Albert Pujols.

Zach14
Zach14

Ike was a prototypical first baseman. Trading him is a mistake.

Zach Goeringer
Zach Goeringer

The title of your article basically sums up the entire trade.

Nick Catino
Nick Catino

So we traded Ike for a bag of balls from Pittsburgh, dumb Mets, what else is new

qualcomm
qualcomm

That PTBNL better be good.  FYI, Morales is still out there.

Herb Goldstein
Herb Goldstein

Toby, while Thornton looks like a decent second piece, the centerpiece of the trade is rumored to be a "significant" 2013 draft pick. As such, yu have to rate this trade a HUGE win for Alderson. Davis may thrive in Pittsburgh, and I surely hope he does, but we had to resolve the 1B situation before it really got out of hand.

Regarding the PTBN, I assume Austin Meadows is too much to hope for. I think the likely return is one of Blake Taylor, JaCoby Jones or Cody Dickson. I will do back flips for any one of them. And at my age, back flips are no mean feat.

Bill Russell
Bill Russell

If he sucked so much explain why he got so many walks at the end of last year. Pitchers still feared him.

Mark Rakentine
Mark Rakentine

At what level has Duda ever produced power numbers?

ponzies86
ponzies86

Are you ok? So you would rather Duda who gave this team Nothing!! Over a player who has better upside and much better defense

Mike Carney
Mike Carney

@Nick Catino  We need young relievers and Zack Thornton has been great in the minors and we are getting an even better young player. Plus Ike wasn't much better than a bag of balls.

nolrog
nolrog

@Nick Catino Well, there is a player to be named later.  Speculation is that it's someone Pittsburgh drafted last year, and they cannot be traded until after the next draft.

Toby Hyde
Toby Hyde moderator

@Herb Goldstein  Which is exactly what I said in the second paragraph. We cannot analyze the trade until we know who the second player is going to be. 

joea
joea

@Mark Rakentine You give him a consistent starting job at 1b, he will hit 20+ HRs. He hit 15 in 2012 and 2013 in limited playing time and trying to learn how to play a brand new position. Again, Duda is not the answer but Ike had his shot to win the job and he did nothing but get demoted. Also Duda is a better contact hitter and a better OBP guy. Not everything is about home runs.

cver
cver

@ponzies86 I like Ike for defense, but it got old waiting around for him to get back to what he seemed to be 3 years ago or so.  I would very much have liked to see them get rid of both in the offseason and start from scratch - maybe Michael Morse, but when you consider that Morse and Duda might not be that different (time will tell), I suppose we'll have to settle for this and if Duda doesn't work out, try to get a LaRoche or someone else from somewhere for next season.  I was ready to non-tender Ike, so us getting back a couple of players that might help - when I think of it that way, maybe this was the way to go.  And some of the blame has to go on Met fans for booing and creating a tense atmosphere.  Sure the players should have thicker skins, but not all do and I don't believe Ike does - or at least, he couldn't solve his hitting woes to turn the jeers into cheers.

ron3d2y
ron3d2y

@ponzies86 Are you ok? How has Duda given this team any less than Davis has? That's almost impossible considering Davis is the one who has been giving nothing. They've both been bad and neither should be our 1B if we ever become a good team. However, Duda actually has done decently well so far this year and while at 1B for his career, Duda projects to put up just about the same numbers as Davis has. I would rather watch a different person get the chance and fail than watch Davis again. In the right platoon, a player like Duda can be successful for now.


Where is all this upside Davis has? It sure hasn't been seen anywhere for a long time now. Just cause he was a 1st round pick and people let themselves get attached to him as a home grown prospect doesn't mean he still has all this potential. Thousands of players have been drafted in the 1st round, had some small success, and then you never hear from them again. He's never had any more upside than Duda has, the only difference is one was a 1st round pick and the other wasn't.


Duda's defense is not bad at all either, he's not a gold glover, but this idea a lot of fans seem to have that because he was a terrible OF he's a terrible 1B is completely false. He's actually a pretty decent defender at 1B. Davis might be better in this department, but not by as much as people seem to think. Not to mention even Davis' defense started to suffer at times last year cause of everything he was going through. 


qualcomm
qualcomm

How do you know Ike wasn't good? Ike never played and when he did get into a consistant groove he was usually really good. He was injured or taken in and out of the lineup for so long that there was no way for him to turn it on. He's a 30/90 guy who is under 30 with plus defense... don't undervalue a guy who has proven he can hit for power at the highest level.

SJReiter
SJReiter

@sabometrics @AVSNY Same! I have a feeling the name will leak before June. It seems like things always leak these days

sabometrics
sabometrics

@SJReiter @AVSNY I think it's pretty common for the PTBNL to come from a list of guys (protects against injuries.) I want to know now!

Mark Rakentine
Mark Rakentine

You stated that Duda was a power hitter just like Davis, and I pointed out that he is not a power hitter at all. If you don't believe me, have a look at his career major and minor league numbers....very unimpressive. Also Duda is not in the 5 spot in the order for his OBP.

Mark Rakentine
Mark Rakentine

For anyone here who feels that Duda is a better 1b option, take a look at his major & minor league numbers to see just how unimpressive they really are. Then, compare them to Josh Satins career numbers......you will see that even Satin is a far superior player. But hey, if Dudas 10 Hr and 27rbi are OK with you, then you also probably believed the 90 win theory.

nolrog
nolrog

Yeah, we don't know that Ike wasn't good. I mean, it's not like he's sucked for most of the last 2 years or something.