Kentucky catcher Thomas sees parallels to quarterback

Kentucky catcher Thomas sees parallels to quarterback

Michael Thomas probably resembled a prototypical quarterback more on Saturday -- when the Tigers chose him in the 22nd round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft -- than when he played the position for his Elizabethtown (Ky.) High School team.

When he quarterbacked Elizabethtown to a 10-3 record and a regional finals berth his senior year, Thomas was, he admits, "a little bit pudgy."

The University of Kentucky catcher, who was a three-sport athlete in high school, chose to pursue baseball exclusively during his senior year. Since then, he's shed some weight and has learned considerably more about his chosen athletic endeavor.

For example, he's gleaned that playing catcher isn't all that different from being under center.

"I definitely think they're positions where you get to run your team," Thomas said by phone Saturday. "You're involved in every play as a catcher, just like you are as a quarterback."

Thomas noted that they're also both positions where a leadership role isn't so much expected as it is demanded.

Thomas, who idolizes Miguel Cabrera, estimated that he was "90 percent a defensive catcher" entering the second half of his college career. With his summer-league team in Alaska this past summer, he worked on his swing considerably and now believes he's a lot more balanced in what he brings to the table.

This past season was the best offensive one he's had. He hit .315 with eight home runs for the Wildcats.

It's only fitting that a former quarterback, who considered trying to walk on to Kentucky's football team, would expend most of his energy on improving his offensive skills.

Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.