No, unfortunately this isn't a joke.
Rich Thompson has been traded to the Tampa Bay organization for somebody named Kyle Hudson.
Originally signed in April of 2008, Thompson departs as the only player to appear in all five seasons with the IronPigs. He holds the franchise record for games played (468), hits (452), runs (243), and stolen bases (133). He led the International League in stolen bases with 48 in 2011. Thompson was in the midst of a six game hitting streak and had pushed his average over .300 with a 3 for 4 game last night. His popularity transcended his numbers as Richie T was known more for his hustle, heart, and always taking time out for the fans. I could go on, but anyone who reads this blog already knows he will be missed.
If he is on the Durham Bulls, Thompson will return to Coca-Cola Park on June 14 for a four game series. I hope the IronPigs honor him in some way during that weekend. At some point down the road, #12 should be hanging on the outfield wall. Fittingly the only empty space to hang it up on the outfield wall at Coca-Cola Park is in center field.
UPDATE: There may actually be some good news in all of this. Jeff Schuler of the Morning Call has told me on Twitter that he has heard from sources that Thompson will be reporting to the Rays, not Durham. If true, good for Richie. He's done everything he can to get back to the majors and the Phillies haven't called. His desire to get back to the big leagues was recently publicized in an article in Sunday's Philly Inquirer. It would be his second go-round in the Bigs, having appeared in 6 games with the Royals in 2004.
UPDATE #2: Matt Gelb, the guy who wrote the Inquirer piece, confirms that Thompson is joining the Rays.
Thompson was traded by the Phillies to Tampa for OF Kyle Hudson. He's en route to join the Rays now.— Matt Gelb (@magelb) May 16, 2012
25-year old outfielder Kyle Hudson is the poor guy on his way to the Valley to take Rich Thompson's roster spot. Hudson was drafted by the Orioles in the 4th round of the 2008 draft and is in his fifth season of Minor League Ball. He's definitely a hit-for-average guy like Richie and I've seen the term "slap hitter" a lot in my quick research of the guy this afternoon. He has a career .277 batting average with 85 RBI and 126 stolen bases, but zero home runs.
Hudson played in 14 games with the Orioles last year where he hit .143. He also played football in college for Illinois.
I found this scouting report from Orioles-Nation.com that was published in January of last year:
Hudson has consistently gotten on base at a good clip throughout his minor league career, but his lack of power and relatively high strikeout totals take away from the OBP. Despite being a player who relies on speed and contact ability as the main parts of his game, Hudson’s strikeout total ventured into unwanted territory in 2010. He’ll need to do a better job commanding the strike zone and laying off off-speed stuff, which gives him fits. Hudson has plus speed and is likely the second fastest played in the system, second to only Xavier Avery (B&B Note: Avery is currently on the Orioles).At the end of the day this looks like a AAA outfielder for AAA outfielder swap just for the sake of making a deal. Tampa sees something in Thompson that they would like to have available in their system and the Phillies give him a shot at the Majors while getting a younger version of what they're trading away in return. It's not fun, but that's part of the game.
He has the foot speed to cover the gaps and shows excellent tracking ability, which should be expected, as he was a wide receiver in college. His arm strength is well below average though his speed and ability to cover the gaps helps his arm strength play up a bit.
Hudson should open 2011 with the Baysox where he’ll work on becoming a more consistent hitter, using his speed more efficiently on the base paths and improving his recognition of breaking & off-speed stuff.
Good luck Richie. Of all the players I've ever seen in person, you were my favorite.