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Thomas Striving to Hone Backstop Skills

Thomas threw out runners at a 48 % clip in 2011.

Widely-regarded as the best defensive catching prospect in the Rays system, Mark Thomas says he's always had the physical tools. Inside both Thomas and Jamie Nelson, the Rays roving catching instructor, discuss what the young catcher needs to improve on defensively to make his first season at Double-A a success and to take the next step forward.

The ball skipped in the dirt before it crossed the plate and was able to reach his catcher's mitt so Mark Thomas, as taught since 11, blocked the ball from passing him with his chest. After he secured it, the Biscuits backstop then picked the ball up, cocked back but did not release. He didn't have to. The runner on first base did not try to advance; he started to and even positioned his legs to...

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