Courtesy of Perfect Game.

Cliff Godwin, Jeff Palumbo and company have continuously stocked their team’s recruiting ranks with potential two-way talent. Over the last several years, ECU has transformed into the self-proclaimed  “two-way U” with the most notable player to appear in both the batter’s box and on the mound, Alec Burleson, becoming a second round selection of the St. Louis Cardinals earlier this year.

Scroll through ECU’s commitment list for the next few years and you will see it packed with recruits that have been encouraged to bring their two-way talents to Greenville, North Carolina. In 2023 commit Parker Thomas, the Pirates have a young man with a projectable frame on the mound and the athleticism to be a switch-hitter at the plate.

“I view myself as both (a pitcher and hitter),” Thomas said. “I can manipulate on the mound, get kids out in any way possible. Hitting; I just spray the ball to all fields and be a team player, do my job.”

Thomas committed to ECU in late July from Archbishop Spalding High School in Maryland. Teammates with 2020 Pirate commit Josh Moylan and from the same area as 2022 ECU commit Lamar King, Thomas is also coached by Jeff Palumbo’s brother, Joe.

While the ECU connections were there for Thomas, he still had other schools interested in his abilities, so it was important for him to see the culture and atmosphere the Pirates offer.

“It was the atmosphere,” Thomas said on why he chose ECU. “The whole town of Greenville is all towards sports, everybody supports it, the fans, everything. The coaching staff is absolutely awesome. Godwin wants to be there, Palumbo is awesome, Dietrich is awesome, they all want to be there.”

Listed at 6’3” and 180 pounds, Thomas still growing into his body. In a relatively short amount of time, he has continued to bulk up, adding velocity to a fastball that now sits in the upper-80s and power to a swing that lends itself toward gap-to-gap power.

On Prep Baseball’s report of the top-ten players from Maryland in the class of 2023, Thomas ranked fourth on the list as a right-handed pitcher. For his age, Thomas has the ability to spin the baseball well, featuring a sharp-breaking curveball and solid changeup. He is also working on developing a slider, while at the same continuing to refine his curveball.

Thomas is doing so under the guidance of summer ball coach and ECU baseball alum T.J. Hose. Hose played at ECU from 2005-08 and has helped Thomas learn how to use technology like Pitchlogic to better himself on the mound.

“It helps me because I know what I can do and it helps me locate what I know how to do and what I don’t,” Thomas said. “It helps me know what I have to improve on.”

Thomas said the technology helps him with things like finding the spin on his breaking balls and tweaking parts of his mechanics to find some extra velocity on his fastball.

At the plate, Thomas has the ability to square balls up from both sides of the plate. Like most switch-hitters in the game, he is naturally a right-handed hitter, but picked up the skill of hitting left-handed during a wiffle ball game.

“I started about two years ago,” Thomas said. “I started messing around with it — I was playing wiffle ball with a bunch of my friends and I started thinking like, ‘I could be a switch-hitter one day.’ I started doing it in games and started progressing. This winter and this off-season, I’ve gotten a lot better at it and I’ve started to excel.”

Thomas’ bat has stood out so much in recent months that some schools on his recruiting trail had him as just a hitter. Pitching, of course, was not something Thomas was willing to give up despite recognizing the extra work and preparation that goes into being a two-way player.

“It takes lots of hours and work,” Thomas said. “Numerous days and weeks and months to do both. I have arm care to do, and I have to work from both sides (of the plate), which is double as much as a normal person would have to do for hitting.”

Thomas, like his fellow 2023 commits, has a few years before he will step foot on ECU’s campus as a freshman. In that time, he wants to continue growing as a baseball player, while working toward putting on good weight ahead of his next high school season.

His goal for his off-season is to get up into the 190-195-pound range, something he hopes will allow his fastball to gain some miles per hour and his bat to become louder.

With some growth, it is not hard to imagine Thomas’ ceiling at the collegiate level, both on the mound and at the plate. While he is a little taller than Burleson, Thomas has the opportunity to be just as impactful as the former Pirate.

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