Ian Thomas, a former VCU pitcher who finished his Rams career in 2009, made his major league debut on March 31 with the Atlanta Braves. He recorded one out and allowed one single in one-third of an inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day.
Thomas, who pitched two seasons at Louisburg Junior College before transferring to VCU, started ten games for the Rams in 2008, going 3-3 with 45 strike outs over 60 2/3 innings while posting a 4.45 ERA.
Thomas went undrafted, and found himself signing with Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Canadian Northern League. He played three seasons for Winnipeg, where he accumulated an 11-5 record and won the Northern League Rookie Pitcher of the Year award in 2010.
In 2012, the Braves signed him to a minor-league contract and designated him to Single A Rome. There, Thomas went 5-0 with six saves and 58 strikeouts over 45 and two-thirds innings.
The next year he was promoted to Double A, where Thomas went 7-8 with a 2.76 ERA and 123 strikeouts in a 104 and one-third innings.
His success with Atlanta’s Double A affiliate helped earn Thomas an invitation to the Braves 2014 Spring Training camp this past offseason, where he impressed Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez enough to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Gonzalez said he was impressed with the young left-hander despite limited experience.
“He threw quality innings and he has weapons that we can use,” Gonzalez told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Thomas has not yet made a second appearance for the Braves, but he does remain on the team’s active major league roster.