When the New York Yankees took Drew Thorpe in the second round of the 2022 MLB Draft, they knew he was good, and they were familiar with his potential. It’s fair to say, however, that what he achieved in 2023 (his first pro season) was much better than even the most optimistic fan would have expected.
Thorpe received the Pitching Prospect of the Year Award at the MiLB Awards Show on Monday, proof that he did nothing but dominate in the Yankees High-A and Double-A affiliates.
The Yankees worked with Thorpe to get more strength out of his lower half, and it resulted in a velocity increase. His fastball, a pitch that has sinking action, actually sits in the 92-94 mph range, but he can dial it up to the mid-90s if needed. The best thing of all, and the thing that makes his heater (and the rest of his stuff, including his unbelievable changeup) play up, is his pinpoint command.
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The Yankees have a special arm in Thorpe
That fastball-changeup combo has made Thorpe one of the most promising minor leaguers in baseball.
“I think it’s just different than most changeups guys see,” Thorpe told MILB.com. “It mimics my fastball a lot. That’s where I get the most swing and miss with the differential and how much it looks like my fastball. … Most changeups are more horizontal break, horizontal movement. Mine is pretty vertical. I’ll get up to 18-20 inches of vertical on it, so it’s basically a fastball almost, just 10 mph less.”
The pair of excellent pitches helped Thorpe cruise through the minors in 2023. He started off in High-A with the Hudson Valley Renegades and had a 2.81 ERA in 18 starts and 109 innings pitched. His 138/33 K/BB ratio was elite, and the Yankees felt compelled to bring him up to the Double-A Somerset Patriots.
Competition there was stronger, but don’t worry: Thorpe was even better. In five starts and 30.1 innings of work, he had a 1.48 ERA (1.82 FIP) and a 44/5 K/BB ratio. Phenomenal work.
The Yankees have several rotation options for 2024, so they can afford to take their time with Thorpe. Still, they know they have a potential difference-making arm there, one that could be placed in Triple-A to start next season or even make the big league club out of camp. He is that good.