The New York Yankees have their sights set on a few big players this off-season, notably Yoshinobu Yamamoto in free agency and potentially Juan Soto via trade if the San Diego Padres look to move off his expected $30 million salary.
The Yankees Could Leverage Top Pitching Prospects
If the team looks to acquire a superstar like Soto, they may have to leverage their top pitching prospect, Drew Thorpe. The 23-year-old right-handed pitcher took a significant step forward and 2023, putting together some elite numbers and showcasing what he can do in the future. He pitched 109 innings in High-A with Hudson Valley, posting a 2.81 ERA and 3.30 FIP, including 11.39 strikeouts per nine and a 76.7% left-on-base rate.
Thorpe took things to another level in Double-A with Somerset, hosting a 1.48 ERA, 2.15 FIP, 13.05 strikeouts per nine, a 94.9% left-on-base rate, and 52.5% ground ball rate across 30.1 innings. In fact, they had to shut him down prematurely due to reaching an innings limit, but Thorpe is primed to be promoted to Triple-A early in 2024 and potentially make his MLB debut next season at some point.
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Drew Thorpe Has One Elite Pitch
Thorpe has arguably the best change-up in the Yankees’ farm, which dates back several years when he was drafted. His ability to generate swings and misses utilizing his deception is what makes him such an exciting young prospect. While his fastball peaks in the mid-90s, his ability to command and mix that pitch with breaking balls boosts his stock.
If Thorpe can continue increasing his velocity incrementally and maintaining his elite change-up, there’s no question he could be a phenomenal MLB player, which is something another team may be targeting in a blockbuster deal. For a player like Soto, Thorpe would 100% be on the board, but they may want MLB-ready pitching, so the Yankees could float Clarke Schmidt and a lesser pitching prospect like Chase Hampton or Richard Fitts.
The truth is, Thorpe has a one-way ticket to be an instrumental part of the starting rotation in the future, so the Yankees will likely try to hold onto him, but for a player like Soto, it’s hard to remove him from the equation entirely.