Who is Drew Thorpe, the Yankees’ most prized arm in the farm?

Yankees pitching prospect Drew Thorpe

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The New York Yankees possess one of the most promising pitching prospects in the entire baseball world. He is none other than Drew Thorpe, who carries the potential for an MLB debut in 2024 or 2025.

A second-round pick in the 2022 MLB June Amateur Draft, Drew Thorpe has rapidly ascended through the Yankees’ minor league system. The 22-year-old has enjoyed a highly impressive season, earning him a spot as a finalist for the esteemed MiLB Pitcher of the Year Award.

The promise of Drew Thorpe

One of the most glaring needs in the Yankees’ 2023 lineup is undoubtedly their starting rotation. While it looks certain that the team would like to look for an addition this offseason, Drew Thorpe offers them an alternative, especially when their focus is on a youthful approach.

The No. 5-ranked Drew Thorpe is known for his durability, finishing as the second pitcher with the most innings among all Top 100 pitchers. In terms of ERA, he ranked just behind Robby Snelling on that list and led the group in WHIP. Among all Minor Leaguers who exceeded 80 innings pitched, the Yankees prospect topped the charts in xFIP with a 2.90 while securing third place in WHIP and K-BB percentage.

Despite ending the 2023 season with an injury, the young right-handed pitcher had a standout season in the minor leagues this year. Drew Thorpe made a total of 23 starts split between the High-A Hudson Valley Renegades and Double-A Somerset Patriots, where he posted an impressive 2.52 ERA and an outstanding 14-2 win-loss record. His performance was particularly remarkable during his time with Somerset, where he maintained a remarkable 1.48 ERA across five starts. If Drew Thorpe can sustain this level of performance going into the next season, it wouldn’t be unexpected to see him make his debut in New York.


What makes Drew Thorpe a pitching gem

The Yankees‘ second-round pick from the previous year, had originally been recruited to Cal Poly as a two-way player but the decision to focus on pitching had proven to be a wise one.

When evaluating a pitching prospect, the usual elements of their scouting report are quite straightforward: What pitches do they have in their arsenal, how effectively can they use them, and how fast can they throw them? These three aspects play a significant role in determining a prospect’s overall rating and their standing compared to their peers.

In the case of Drew Thorpe, the Yankees’ No. 5 prospect overall and No. 2 pitching prospect, his standout feature in the MLB Pipeline scouting report is his changeup. This pitch has earned a score of 65 out of 80, making it one of the highest-rated changeups in the organization and is regarded as a dominant weapon.

However, there are other crucial components that aren’t assessed on a numerical scale. Simply possessing one or two strong pitches isn’t sufficient for a guaranteed path to the Major Leagues. Drew Thorpe places significant emphasis on those less quantifiable factors.

Preston Claiborne, the pitching coach for the Hudson Valley Renegades, commented that Drew Thorpe’s competitiveness shines through in his on-mound demeanor. Claiborne noted that when the Yankees rookie aims for a strikeout but doesn’t execute the pitch as precisely as he’d like, he has the ability to switch into a primal, ultra-competitive mode.

In his debut season as a professional pitcher, the 22-year-old Drew Thorpe has demonstrated his capability to be a dominant force on the mound. His remarkable achievements, like his exceptional 0.31 ERA at High-A Hudson Valley in the month of June, highlight his competitive spirit and his undoubtedly impressive pitching repertoire. These qualities led to his promotion to Double-A Somerset in August, where he has already amassed a body of work that has garnered considerable excitement about his future in the game.

Interestingly, despite his eye-catching statistics, one of the initial things that strikes you when sitting down with Drew Thorpe is his calm and reserved demeanor.

Yankees pitching prospect Drew Thorpe

Drew Thorpe mentioned that his demeanor off the mound is similar to his behavior on the mound. He described himself as generally calm and collected, striving to maintain an even keel and avoid extreme emotional highs or lows.

The journey of the young rookie

Born in St. George, Utah, Drew Thorpe’s journey in baseball began at Desert Hills High School in his hometown, where he didn’t spend much time on the pitcher’s mound until his sophomore year. Despite this, he was recruited by California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo as a two-way player. However, Drew Thorpe quickly shifted his focus to pitching when he was added to the Mustangs’ weekend rotation during his freshman year. His talent was evident during his college years, and by 2022, Drew Thorpe had set a new single-season strikeout record at Cal Poly with an impressive 149 strikeouts, which ranked second highest among all Division I pitchers that year.

When the New York Yankees selected Drew Thorpe in the second round of the 2022 MLB Draft, they recognized that there was more to him than just his pitching repertoire. According to Yankee’s senior director of pitching Sam Briend, their primary consideration when bringing Thorpe on board was his competitiveness. They were aware of his strong secondary pitches and believed he had significant potential, particularly in terms of his fastball and delivery.

In 2022, despite having already logged over 100 innings during his collegiate career, the Yankees drafted Drew Thorpe as the 61st overall pick. Following the draft, the organization decided to temporarily halt his competitive pitching, allowing the 6-foot-4-inch, 190-pound pitcher to collaborate with the Yankees’ pitching development team to refine certain aspects of his game.

According to Briend, they were aware that certain aspects of Thorpe’s delivery needed addressing. They aimed to provide him with a solid foundation in terms of movement and strength, allowing him the time to develop these attributes. This approach made it much more manageable for Drew Thorpe to begin making the necessary adjustments when they began working together.

When Spring Training rolled around, Drew Thorpe came to camp in better physical condition and had fine-tuned his lower-body mechanics, resulting in improved velocity. Furthermore, his coaches were impressed by his attitude and approach. He demonstrated a strong desire to learn and eagerly absorbed any information provided to him, demonstrating a willingness to ask pertinent questions to enhance his skills.

Yankees pitching prospect Drew Thorpe

Following an extended offseason, Drew Thorpe was assigned to Hudson Valley, where he made his professional pitching debut on April 9. Unfortunately, the first pitch he delivered was hit for a home run, not the ideal start to his career. However, this setback only fueled his determination. Fellow pitching prospect Chase Hampton recalls that Drew Thorpe’s response was to focus even more on getting the next batter out, and he quickly recorded his first two pro strikeouts, ultimately tallying eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings against the Greensboro Grasshoppers.

Hampton recognized Drew Thorpe’s competitive nature during that performance, and it became a recurring theme. As roommates and teammates, Drew Thorpe and Hampton, along with others like Spencer Jones and Mason Vinyard, engaged in board games like Catan. Amidst the trading and settlement building, Thorpe’s competitive spirit emerged when Hampton claimed a couple of victories, prompting Thorpe to express his desire to win.

Drew Thorpe’s mindset, evident in both board games and baseball, has enabled him to exert his determination on opponents, as noted by Claiborne, who had a close working relationship with Thorpe during his tenure in Hudson Valley. His performance there demonstrated his elite abilities. His impressive tally of 138 strikeouts in 18 starts with the Renegades provides a more accurate reflection of his skills than the 10 home runs he allowed during that period.

The Yankees prospect mentioned that he has consistently been a pitcher who focuses on command, and he has been working on refining his pitches to generate more missed swings, which has proven effective for him.

Claiborne pointed out that Drew Thorpe excelled in generating swing-and-misses, particularly with his changeup, showcasing excellent pitch ability by consistently hitting the edges of the strike zone and effectively locating offspeed pitches just below the zone. Like any rookie player, Drew Thorpe is a work in progress, but his trajectory appears to be headed in the right direction.


A determined and skilled pitching prospect

During his initial eight starts, Drew Thorpe demonstrated solid performance, concluding his first two months in Hudson Valley with a 3.92 ERA and an average of 6.5 strikeouts per game. However, in his first June outing, he seemed to elevate his game, tossing eight scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and surrendering just one hit against the Aberdeen IronBirds.

This standout performance marked the beginning of one of the most impressive pitching months in all of Minor League Baseball. Across four June starts, he allowed only one run, gave up 12 hits, and struck out 34 batters in 28 2/3 innings—an incredible 0.31 ERA that earned him recognition as the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Month.

While Drew Thorpe attributes his success to regaining his competitive form after months without pitching, he also worked on locating his changeup effectively against right-handed batters to complement his slider.

Building on his dominant June, Drew Thorpe continued to deliver strong performances in July, largely due to his precision in the strike zone. His 32.4% strikeout rate was the highest in High-A during his time at that level.

Even after a challenging outing on July 29, where he allowed eight earned runs in four innings, Drew Thorpe quickly rebounded with a 10-strikeout performance in his next start.

Following his strong performance, Drew Thorpe received his first promotion in the Minor Leagues and was summoned to Double-A Somerset on August 8. Despite the anticipated transition challenges associated with moving up a level, Thorpe appeared unfazed by the prospect.

Drew Thorpe demonstrated that he is not just a good pitcher – he is exceptionally talented. In his debut for the Patriots on August 11, he pitched eight scoreless innings against the Mets’ Double-A team, allowing only two hits while striking out nine batters. His current scouting report indicates that he has the potential to reach the big leagues soon. Dividing his season between the High-A Hudson Valley Renegades and the Double-A Somerset Patriots, he made a total of 23 starts. During these games, he secured a record of 14 wins and 2 losses, maintaining an ERA of 2.52. He also achieved 182 strikeouts in 139 and 1/3 innings pitched.

Juan Soto in the Bronx but at what cost?

On December 6, 2023, the Yankees completed a trade sending Thorpe, Michael King, Randy Vásquez, Jhony Brito, and Kyle Higashioka to the San Diego Padres. In return, they received Juan Soto and Trent Grisham from the Padres.

In the trade, the Yankees parted with several key pitchers, including Thorpe, who was among their most highly regarded prospects. Losing Thorpe and other arms like Michael King and Jhony Brito represented a significant depletion of their pitching depth. While acquiring Juan Soto, a premier talent, arguably balanced the scales, the trade still highlighted a bold move by the Yankees, sacrificing considerable pitching talent for offensive firepower. This strategic decision underscores the high stakes of building a championship-caliber team, even though it meant parting with valuable assets on the mound.

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Standard Pitching minor league

202019Cal Poly San Luis ObispoNCAA110.53.213.214400028271010070312021161.2148.702.3104.43
202120Cal Poly San Luis ObispoNCAA660.53.794.08161510190.178413843801045123711.2847.80.43.810.42.74
202221Cal Poly San Luis ObispoNCAA1010.9092.322.671515110104.265312752501492053990.865.
2023222 TeamsA+-AANYY1420.8752.522.7823230110139.1994339133801820355360.9836.40.82.511.84.79
202322Hudson ValleyA+NYY1020.8332.813.1418180110109843834103301380234261.0736.90.82.711.44.18
Minors (1 season)Minors1420.8752.522.7823230110139.1994339133801820355360.9836.40.82.511.84.79
College (3 seasons)College1780.683.033.313534211223170827597002849198861.0766.90.42.811.54.06
Other (2 seasons)Other220.52.042.8112500235.1321182160261041511.3588.
All Levels (5 Seasons)33120.7332.763.0869595323397.23011361222412404921041815731.0696.80.52.811.13.97
Baseball Reference

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