Left-hander Connor Thomas went unclaimed and has been assigned outright to Triple-A Memphis by the Cardinals, per a team announcement. He’ll remain in the organization after being designated for assignment Tuesday, when the Cards set their roster in advance of the deadline to protect prospects from the Rule 5 Draft.
Thomas, 25, was the Cardinals’ fifth-round pick in 2019. He’s yet to make his big league debut but was selected to the roster last offseason when the Cards were setting their roster to protect players (Thomas included) at that same deadline. A rough 2023 campaign in Triple-A, however, dropped his stock and led the team to remove him from the roster.
In 21 appearances with Memphis this year — 17 of them starts — Thomas worked 94 1/3 innings of 5.53 ERA ball. That marked his third straight stint in Triple-A and his second with an ERA north of 5.00. Thomas notched a 3.10 ERA in Memphis back in 2021, and the Cards saw fit to protect him from Rule 5 selection last year in hopes that he’d rebound in a third look with their Triple-A club.
Instead, Thomas saw his strikeout rate plummet to a career-low 15.7%. He maintained strong command, although this past season’s 7% walk rate, while still better than the league average, was his highest in a full season. As a soft-tossing lefty with plus command and plenty of grounders, Thomas has profiled as a fifth starter at his best. He’s something of a throwback to prior generations in an era increasingly populated by power arms.
Thomas had previously ranked as highly as No. 19 prospect in the Cardinals’ system at Baseball America and No. 20 at MLB.com. FanGraphs pegged him 11th heading into the 2023 season. The Cards will hope to get him back on track this year, and given the general organizational need for rotation depth, they’re likely happy to stash him back in Memphis.