LOS ANGELES -- There’s another Splash Brother in the Golden State, but he's not Warrior, he wears Dodger blue.
Trayce Thompson, younger brother of NBA star Klay Thompson, is starting to make a name for himself under the bright lights of Hollywood after he hit a pinch-hit, walk-off home run on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Thompson's home run was the second straight game the outfielder went deep and his third long ball in week after his mammoth blast at Tropicana Field last Tuesday got caught in the catwalk and never came down.
Thompson is the fourth professional athlete in his family but the first to do so in baseball. His father, Mychal won a couple NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. Klay is a key cog on the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, who broke the record for most wins in a regular season (73) this year. His older brother, Mychel also made his NBA debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011.
Thompson was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft out of Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. He opted to play professional baseball instead of enrolling at UCLA, and he quickly climbed the minor league ladder and made his Major League debut on August 4, 2015. He hit .295 with a .363 on-base percentage in 122 at-bats for the White Sox last year.
“I think one of the reasons why I had success is because I didn’t do too much,” Thompson said. “I just got to be myself, relax and go have fun, not try to do too much and just play the game.”
The Dodgers acquired Thompson along with Micah Johnson and Frankie Montas in a three-team trade that sent All-Star third baseman Todd Fraizer to the White Sox from Cincinnati. Thompson knows Dodgers centerfielder Joc Pederson throughout his minor league career most notably through their time in the instructional league at their spring training facility in Glendale, Ariz.
“The Dodgers and the White Sox would mesh and play in the stadium games,” Thompson said. “So I got to meet (Pederson) and a few of the guys that got to play in the outfield. So we had a relationship for three or four years now and I know him on a personal level more than anyone else.”
Thompson is another young Dodgers outfielder with impressive size, speed and athleticism. His bat speed and leverage gives him plenty of power from the right-hand side. Despite his age, Thompson is patient and willing to work the count and wait for the right pitch to drive.
As a hitter, Thompson has similar qualities of Andre Either, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list. Thompson said during spring training that Either was the closet he had to a mentor.
“Andre has really opened up to me,” Thompson said. “I feel like he’s definitely someone that I look up to. I love watching him. He’s an amazing hitter and amazing outfielder.”
It's ironic, that because of Ethier's injury, Thompson made the Dodgers' opening day roster and has received extensive playing time – especially against left-handed pitching – so far on the young season. He's batting .277 with four home runs and 12 RBI through 27 games and looks to be a vital part of the Los Angeles Dodgers run in 2016 and beyond.