- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Few players in the Nationals organization felt the geographical impact of the move from Montreal to Washington like Daryl Thompson.

When the Expos drafted Thompson in 2003, Olympic Stadium was a nearly 10-hour journey from La Plata High School in Southern Maryland. Should Thompson make it to the majors now, his family’s commute to the ballpark will be less than an hour.

“It didn’t really hit me until this spring training when I started thinking about it more,” Thompson said. “Maybe in a couple of more years I could be playing in D.C. playing right at home on a big league team. That’s the best thing that could happen to you. When you’re a young kid you want to grow up and be a professional baseball player, and then you get drafted, and the next thing you know you could be playing in your backyard.”

If RFK Stadium still feels hundreds of miles away to Thompson, that’s because it is. He is spending his second full season with the organization’s South Atlantic League affiliate in Savannah, Ga.

Thompson spent the professional portion of his 2003 season with the Gulf Coast League Expos after being selected in the eighth round of the draft that summer. Last season, Thompson went 4-9 with a 5.08 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 103 innings. While the raw numbers were not impressive, Thompson was the youngest player in the league — he didn’t turn 19 until Nov.2. Even now, the lean right-hander remains a member of the league’s youth.

“I don’t really think about it. I look at it like if I belong here, then I don’t want anyone treating me any different just because I’m young,” Thompson said. “I just want to be treated the same.”

This season has brought better results but also his first injury troubles. Thompson is 2-3 with a 3.35 ERA in 12 starts. He missed a month earlier in the season and hasn’t pitched since July14 because of shoulder soreness.

“I never would have said anything if I had shoulder problems before, but I’d never had any problems, so I said something about it,” Thompson said after the first time off.

When Thompson is healthy, scouts laud his composure on the mound at such a young age. He has a good fastball that could add velocity as his body matures and at times a good curveball. His manager, Randy Knorr, likes his willingness to work the inside part of the plate.

When he’s not on the mound, family members prod him about when he will make the next move up the organizational ladder to nearby Woodbridge, Va., and high-Class A Potomac.

“I’ve been getting [questions from family members] all year,” Thompson said. “It’s been frustrating, but I try to just block it out. I’ve got my grandmother and my uncle and my mom asking me, ‘When do you think you’re going to move up.’ They’ve just got to let me pitch. [The organization] isn’t going to move me up if I’m doing bad.

“Sometimes when I go out there I feel pressured because I want to do good so I can move up. When I don’t pitch well, sometimes I feel like I let other people down, but I’ve just got to get that out of my head.”

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