Former Viking takes spring training mound for Red Sox

Siuslaw graduate Jake Thompson made his spring training debut for the Boston Red Sox on Feb. 27. He came in in the 9th and earned a save when he retired the Twins to end the game. Photo courtesy NESN

Thompson, SHS Class of 2013, has spent last five years in Boston's farm system

March 14, 2023 — Jake Thompson, Siuslaw Class of 2013, made his spring training debut for the Boston Red Sox on Feb. 27 in what is believed to be the first ever appearance in a Major League Baseball spring training game by a former Siuslaw High athlete.

Thompson made his debut at the Red Sox’ spring home, JetBlue Park in Fort Meyers, Fla. in the top of the 9th inning against the Minnesota Twins. The Red Sox held a 4-1 lead when Thompson entered the game.

The first batter he faced, Twins farmhand Alex Isola, fouled out to the first baseman on the second pitch.

Next, Thompson gave up a bloop single to Mark Contreras.

The third batter he faced was former Baltimore Oriole catcher Chance Sisco, now playing for the Twins. Thompson struck him out on three pitches, finishing Sisco off with a high fastball that the Twin couldn’t catch up with.

After that Will Holland doubled off the left field fence moving Contreras to third.

Andrew Bechtold came to the plate representing the tying run. After getting ahead in the count 1-2, Thompson struck him out with a breaking ball to stop the Twins’ prospective rally and seal the win for the Red Sox.

In this, his debut for the Red Sox spring training squad, Thompson earned the save, which is awarded to a pitcher who finishes a game for his team while maintaining the lead they had when he took over pitching responsibilities.

It was over a week later before Thompson got another opportunity to show his stuff for the Red Sox. Strangely, he ended up pitching against his own team.

This spring, many major league baseball players are participating in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), a tournament that brings together teams of players, grouped by the country of their or their parents’ origin, in an event similar to soccer’s World Cup. 

Prior to the event, many of the national teams played exhibition games against major league teams in preparation for the WBC. On March 8 the Red Sox played a game against the Puerto Rican national team.

Puerto Rico, down 7-1 in the 7th inning to the Red Sox and not wanting to use any more of their own pitchers with the big tournament coming up, asked for a “pitcher loan” from the Red Sox. Games during spring training are considered practice so teams aren’t necessarily concerned about winning. The goal is to work out the kinks for the upcoming regular season. The Red Sox loaned Jake Thompson to Puerto Rico for one game.

Thompson was forced to quickly change his uniform to take the mound to pitch against his own team. He did not fare quite as well as his first outing giving up two earned runs, a hit, and a walk while striking out one in 2/3 inning of work against his own Boston teammates.

This is Thompson’s sixth season in the Red Sox organization. After his years as a Viking, Thompson pitched for Oregon State, earning All-American honors for the Beavers. In 2017 he was drafted in the fourth round by the Red Sox and began his professional baseball career.

Thompson put up solid numbers last year for Portland, Boston’s AA farm team, and Worchester, their AAA squad, posting a combined 3.54 ERA with 56 strikeouts in just 48 1/3 innings pitched. During his time with Portland to start the year his ERA was a stellar 2.03 and his WHIP was 1.16.

Jake is the son of Jon and Pam Thompson of Florence. His wife is Jireh and they have two young children.