This is the first in a series of prospect reports I hope to do. The life of a minor leaguer and the daily grind is interesting. I hope to bring that part of baseball to you. Cody Thomas was gracious enough to grant some time for my questions a few days ago.
Cody Thomas, born and raised in Texas, was drafted in the 13th round of the 2016 Amateur Entry Draft as a former two sports player. He played quarterback at the University of Oklahoma and battled with Baker Mayfield for the starting job there. At Oklahoma, he played a little baseball in his freshman year and didn’t play at all as a sophomore. It was his Junior year, 2016, when he devoted his time to baseball and became a possible draft prospect.
— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) June 17, 2016
After Thomas signed with the Dodgers he played in Ogden in 2106 and Great Lakes in 2017. He has played the whole 2018 season with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.
California League Living
The first question I asked was regarding his living arrangements. He said he shares a two-bedroom with two other guys. Earlier in the season, there was a total of four guys in the two-bedroom and one of the guys was basically living in the hallway.
One of the interesting things I’ve learned about the players is that there are sponsors for the players. I asked Cody what the sponsors do for the players and this was his response:
“Sponsors do a ton for us I mean from supplying our apartments with beds, chairs, tables, everything, to giving us snacks before road trips. They are there after road games to give us treats and waters and stuff. The list goes on and they do so much for us it’s unbelievable and I’m really appreciative for what they all do for us.”
We then talked about how the players all get around. Cody says he has a truck and is used to Texas driving where the traffic is nothing like Southern California. He said about half of the team has a vehicle so they help each other out.
We spoke about how good the 2018 Quakes have been (they set a franchise record for wins). He talked about how there has been a lot of roster turnover throughout the season and how the clubhouse culture has been a big reason why they’ve continued to succeed. The environment created by the manager, Drew Saylor, and the coaching staff is a huge factor in keeping everyone pulling in the same direction.
In reviewing the 2018 season with Cody we spoke about a big jump in his batting average (more singles and doubles but similar home runs). He credited some work in the off-season on some swing changes. Last year was his first full season “so you see how pitchers are going to attack you throughout a year, how that can change and what weaknesses you get exposed to thought out the year that you need to work on. I think I hammered some things down, feeling good this year and I’ve already got a list of things I need to work on the off-season.” One of the results of his off-season work was being named to the 2018 California League Post-Season All-Star team.
One of the interesting parts of the season was the July 31st trade deadline as many Quakes were being mentioned in rumors; mostly Dustin May and Gavin Lux. Cody said:
“You try not to think about it. At the very end, like the last day or two, is when we really started to hear the rumors. The guys are showing up to the field and not knowing what’s going to happen. I know we lost Rylan Bannon on our team and we didn’t really see that one coming. We thought Dustin (May) might leave us. He ended up staying and Rylan left but you try not to worry about it because you really can never predict how all those things turn out.”
As stated at the beginning Cody was both a football and baseball player at the University of Oklahoma. I asked him how spending so much time on two sports might have affected his baseball career. He said that that with two sports he was going non-stop and that it really affected his health as his body wore down. Now with baseball, it is still a grind (as of this writing he’d played 121 games) and he said that nobody is feeling good right now but they still give it their all.
Major Leaguers on Rehabilitation Assignment
My first reason for beginning to attend Quakes games was to watch Dodgers pitchers on rehabilitation assignments. Since Rancho Cucamonga is close to Los Angeles the Dodgers send a lot of their players on rehabilitation assignments there.
One of the things rehabbers do is take care of the guys on the team. I asked Cody about that and how it’s like having them on the team:
“A lot of guys bought us food. For example Justin Turner bought us Chick-fil-A before one of the games. It’s pretty interesting to see all those guys come down here and how they go about their business. It’s nice to watch and get to see how they go about their routine. They have all been great to us and we are very thankful for the food and whatever else they bring to the table. When they come down here show us a lot of love.”
Given the Julio Urías was the starter for the game, I asked Cody about the impact of having Julio on the roster. He spoke about how Julio, even before he was on the roster, was there almost every day that he didn’t pitch. He would go on the road games and be in the clubhouse interacting with the team. Cody was impressed by his character and the type of teammate he is.
Once the season is complete, Cody said he will be working on getting the load on his swing more consistent, to help see the ball better. A couple days after the interview it was announced that Cody would be playing in the Arizona Fall League after the season. This should be an excellent opportunity to establish himself as a top prospect. For next year Cody should be with the Tulsa Drillers in double A. There were some major improvements from 2017 to 2018 and with another full year of baseball under him, Cody Thomas will be making further strides on his path to Dodger Stadium.
I do want to thank Cody Thomas for taking the time to speak with me and open up about his experiences.
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