Players, coaches, and assorted baseball personalities are converging upon Alaska this week, forming the teams that will compete for this year’s ABL crown. One player who will be making the trip up is right-handed pitcher Cole Thompson, a native of Plano, Texas and a junior at Centenary. Thompson has signed on to pitch for the Oilers this season, making him a part of the team that will be fighting to defend its league title.
I asked Cole if he would be willing to answer a few questions for the fans up in AK, during what is undoubtedly a chaotic week for everyone involved in this season, and he was kind enough to give us a few minutes to respond. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: How did you get hooked up with the Oilers and the ABL this summer?
A: I threw really well in the West Coast League last year and as a result I contacted the Oilers and got our Centenary head coach in touch with the Oilers front office. Since I have thrown well in the West Coast League and the Texas Collegiate League the past two summers, it has opened the door for me to come up and compete in Alaska. We had a pitcher from my school (Centenary) two years ago come up and play for the Mat-Su Miners [Editor: Justin Kraft, 2009], and he always told me if I had the opportunity to go play ball in Alaska I needed to take it.
Q: Brag yourself up a little bit. What are one or two of the strongest parts of your game?
A: I think the strongest part of my game is my 2-seam fastball. I started throwing it when I was like 10 years old and it had a lot of movement. I try to use my 6’6 frame to get on top of the ball and sink it as I throw it. My slider also has tight, late movement and it has worked well for me throughout college and the summer leagues.
Q: Is there a part of your game you hope to work on while you’re in Alaska?
A: I want to continue to work on pounding the strike zone first and foremost. If you don’t throw strikes, you don’t pitch, so that is always my main focus. After that I really want to work on smoothing out my delivery and slow it down just a little. As far as pitching goes, I want to develop my change up against right-handed hitters.
Q: As a Texan playing college ball in Louisiana, what do you think about venturing so far north, as far as the change in climate, culture, etc. goes?
A: I played out of the Seattle area last summer and that was definitely different that the south, so I can’t even imagine how Alaska will be. I am really excited to get out and experience the outdoors and play summer baseball in cool weather. I will definitely miss the Mexican, Cajun, and southern barbecue food, but I will survive for two months. It’s always fun to experience a new culture and it’s crazy where baseball takes you in life.
Q: Is there anything in particular that you’re excited about, on or off the field, during your summer in Alaska? Or anything you’re not looking forward to?
A: I am excited to get out and experience Alaska. I am definitely here to play baseball first, but at the same time you don’t go to Alaska and not look forward to seeing the scenery and wildlife. I am looking forward to doing some fishing on the Kenai River and seeing bears, moose, and all the other wildlife. You don’t really ever see anything like that in Dallas or Louisiana. On the field, I am excited to compete against some of the best collegiate players in the country. It is an honor to play in the ABL, but I want to be successful and help the Oilers win another ABL championship.
Q: If you could face any batter, alive or dead, for one at-bat, who would it be?
A: Being from Texas, I would have to say Josh Hamilton. He is in his prime right now and I always want to go against the best.
No doubt there will be plenty of talented hitters for Thompson to face when he arrives in Alaska. Thanks again to Cole for taking the time to