The New York Yankees‘ 2022 trade deadline deals, which saw them swap high-value pitching prospects for immediate impact players, have been less than satisfactory.
This time around, the pool of top-tier pitching prospects for potential trade deals seems rather slim, save for the recently promoted Triple-A player, Will Warren. Yet, a dark horse in the form of a former second-round pick, Drew Thorpe, is quietly galloping through the minor-league ranks.
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Past Missteps: The 2022 Trade Deadline Debacle
Last year, the Yankees gambled some of their finest pitching prospects to acquire Frankie Montas and Scott Effross, trading away Hayden Wesneski and Ken Waldichuk. Regrettably, all four players have either floundered or battled injuries, with the Yankees’ acquisitions suffering notably.
The Emerging Talent: Drew Thorpe’s Promising Performance
Despite the absence of top-notch pitchers, Drew Thorpe, an under-the-radar arm, is carving out a promising career in minor-league baseball. After posting impressive stats with A+ Hudson Valley, the 22-year-old right-handed pitcher was recently promoted to his current level. With a 2.49 ERA, 3.36 xFIP, 10.70 strikeouts per nine, a 74.6% left-on-base rate, and a 51.5% ground ball rate in 72.1 innings this year, Thorpe is certainly making his presence felt.
Reflecting on his journey so far, Thorpe said (Via Base Prospect Journal), “I think I performed pretty well in spring training, and it just led into starting in High-A, and it has gone well for me thus far. I’m just trying to go out there and do my job as best as possible.”
A Fresh Challenge: Adapting to More Disciplined Batters
In his progression, Thorpe has had to adjust to batters demonstrating greater discipline in the batter’s box. His strategy revolves around throwing strikes and exploiting his assortment of pitches to outwit batters. This approach has served him well so far, but Double-A baseball presents a fresh challenge.
Thorpe acknowledges this, stating, “There was a bit of an adjustment, obviously. Hitters in pro ball definitely have a better feel for the zone and not swinging out of the zone as much, so that was one thing that I had to adapt.”
Thorpe’s Winning Armory: A Blend of High-Performance Pitches
In his pitching repertoire, Thorpe employs a slider, change-up, and mid-90s fastball. These pitches continue to improve, each exhibiting impressive metrics. His change-up, renowned for its late movement, baffles lefty hitters and moves inside toward righties. Renowned scouts regard his change-up as one of the best in his draft class.
Thorpe notes, “I think all three pitches work hand in hand and help me keep hitters off balance and out of rhythm. Most of the strikeouts will come off off-speed pitches, but it also depends on the hitter and it depends on the count. It is situational.”
Looking Ahead: To Trade or Not to Trade
The Yankees could potentially leverage Thorpe in a trade deal for immediate impact players to bolster their World Series chances. However, retaining Thorpe in the farm system for further development could potentially reap bigger rewards. Considering his robust performance with 72.1 innings this year, Thorpe is certainly on track to become a starting pitcher. An MLB debut could be on the horizon in 2024.