June 4: These moves are now official, as the Dodgers have announced that Thompson has been placed on the injured list with a left oblique strain, with DeLuca recalled as the corresponding move.
June 3, 11:50PM: Outfield prospect Jonny DeLuca will be called up from Triple-A to take Thompson’s spot on the roster, The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya reports (Twitter link). Los Angeles selected DeLuca to its 40-man roster during the offseason, to prevent him from being taken in the Rule 5 Draft. DeLuca was a 25th-round pick for the Dodgers in the 2019 draft, and he has posted strong numbers at every minor league stop, including a .329/.373/.571 slash line over his first 75 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. His first appearance on the field with the Dodgers will mark his Major League debut.
Baseball America (17th) and MLB Pipeline (20th) each rank the 24-year-old DeLuca within the top 20 prospects of the Dodgers’ deep farm system, with BA seeing him as “a platoon or reserve outfielder who bashes lefties and plays all three outfield spots.” DeLuca is a solid-to-decent defender, with his plus speed helping both his glovework and his base-stealing (58 swipes in 63 tries over his minor league career). Beginning his career as a switch-hitter, DeLuca seemed to unlock something after becoming only a right-handed hitter. Pipeline’s scouting report cites his strength and “raw power” at the plate, “and he’s able to drive the ball without sacrificing contact.”
10:39PM: Dodgers outfielder Trayce Thompson suffered an injury to his oblique during a checked swing in tonight’s game, manager Dave Roberts told reporters (including Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register). The severity of the injury isn’t yet known, but Roberts said that Thompson will be placed on the 10-day injured list.
It’s another setback in what has been a tough season for Thompson, who is batting only .155/.310/.366 over 87 plate appearances. The outfielder homered three times in his first game of the season and he had three hits against the Rays on May 28, but Thompson otherwise has only five hits over his other 79 PA, including an ugly 0-for-36 slump that was only just snapped with that big game against Tampa. Naturally, Thompson’s playing time has been reduced in the wake of his struggles, even as the Dodgers’ have been looking for extra outfield help since Mookie Betts spending more time as a middle infielder.
Perhaps a dropoff was inevitable given how Thompson’s 2022 numbers greatly outpaced his otherwise modest careers, but it is still count as a letdown that he wasn’t able to continue his seeming breakout. After Los Angeles acquired Thompson in a cash transaction with the Tigers in June 2022, Thompson became an unexpected contributor, hitting .268/.364/.537 over 239 PA for the Dodgers last season.
Luke Williams, Yonny Hernandez, and top prospect Michael Busch could all be candidates for another look in the majors to replace Thompson. The Dodgers have enough multi-position players that they don’t necessarily need to replace Thompson with another outfielder, but Williams does have some outfield experience. This trio are all on the 40-man roster, so L.A. would have to make another corresponding move if it wished to replace Thompson with someone who isn’t currently on the 40-man.