If everything falls into place for Trayce Thompson in 2016, the Dodgers outfielder won’t just be known as Klay Thompson’s kid brother, but also as a major thorn in the Giants’ side.
“I always considered Trayce to be a five-tool player. I think he can do it all once he’s given his chance,” said Mychal Thompson, the patriarch of a remarkably athletic family.
His wife was a volleyball star at the University of San Francisco, his oldest son Mychel plays for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA D-League, his middle son is a Splash Brother and his youngest son is an emerging talent for the Giants’ fiercest rival.
The way Trayce glides around the diamond and flashes easy power at the plate, it’s clear to see what his father is talking about.
On Saturday, Trayce turned on a sixth-inning offering from Madison Bumgarner and raced into second base with a double. Two batters later, he tagged up on a shallow fly ball to right and beat Hunter Pence’s throw to third with ease.
Trayce’s first opportunity to impress on the big stage came at the end of 2015 and he nailed the audition. The 6-foot-3 right-handed hitter, who looks like a shorter — if stronger — version of Klay, logged a.295 average and connected on five homers in 44 games for the White Sox.
He then landed back in his hometown in December when the Dodgers picked him up in a nine-player swap with the White Sox and Reds.
“He was a little caught off guard,” Mychal admitted of the trade that ended the 2009 second-round pick’s seven-year tenure with the White Sox organization. “But he was ready to make the adjustment quickly and he was thrilled to be able to come home and play for such a great organization like the Dodgers — that definitely softens the blow a lot.”
After fighting through the outfield crowd to earn a spot on the Dodgers’ major-league roster, Trayce strikes the humble tone that would be expected of a 25-year-old rookie.
“I just want to help the team win as much as I can — whatever role they have for me,” he said as he stands in the visitor’s dugout at AT&T Park in between rounds of early batting practice before Friday night’s game. “That’s all you can do.”
Trayce has yet to shake the shadow of his famous older brother, but he has a track record of beating up on the Warriors’ sharp shooter when they were younger.
“They would have, obviously, very heated competition out in the front yard playing tackle football one-on-one against each other,” Mychal recalls with a chuckle. “I remember how Klay could never tackle Trayce because Trayce was so much stronger than him — Klay couldn’t bring him down. So, Trayce would just break the tackles like he was Marshawn Lynch and just score touchdowns on poor Klay.”
The battle on the diamond wasn’t nearly as one-sided.
“Oh man, Klay could have been a first-round pick as a pitcher,” Mychal explained. “He had a curve ball that just dropped off the end of the table. He was a really good pitcher in baseball. He could have definitely had a future in that if that’s the path he wanted to choose.”
Trayce backs up that scouting report, deflecting the question when asked who would get the upper hand if Klay took the mound and he stepped to the plate.
“Oh man,” Trayce said. “I don’t know.”
On the hardwood at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, Trayce wasn’t raining in 3-pointers like Klay, but he still made his presence felt.
“Trayce was more like a Draymond-Green type,” Mychal said. “[He would] do it all.” While Klay and Green focus on securing back-to-back NBA titles, Trayce will look to cement his spot in the Dodgers’ outfield rotation where more at bats are suddenly up for grabs after a lower back injury sent Carl Crawford to the disabled list on Saturday. That, and helping spoil the Giants’ even-year plans.
“Well, of course, [his goal is] to stay on the team all the year and help them to win a World Series,” Mychal said. “And the Dodgers are good enough to win the World Series this October — there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind about that. They’ve got everything. They’ve got the hitting, the fielding and the pitching.”Golden State Warriorskarl buscheckKlay ThompsonLos Angeles DodgersMLBMychal ThompsonSan Francisco GiantsTrayce ThompsonUniversity of San Francisco