Yankees reluctance to give up Drew Thorpe stalling Juan Soto trade talks

Yankees top pitching prospect Drew Thorpe

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In the initial stages of Juan Soto trade discussions, the Padres are unsurprisingly seeking pitching, and the Yankees are exercising their usual caution and selectivity. As reported by The Post’s Jon Heyman, the trade deal is on hold following the Yankees’ reluctance to part away with pitching prospect Drew Thorpe.

Renowned for their adeptness in maximizing organizational pitching talent in recent years, the Yankees are cautious not to part with key contributors.

Why Yankees are reluctant to give up Drew Thorpe

While Drew Thorpe might not be widely recognized, in his inaugural professional season, the right-handed prospect emerged as perhaps the most outstanding pitcher across all of minor league baseball.

Remarkably, the 23-year-old led the minor leagues in strikeouts, tallying an impressive 182 in 139 ¹/₃ innings. Among minor league pitchers who had a minimum of 20 starts, Drew Thorpe’s 2.52 ERA ranked as the third best, with his 0.98 WHIP securing the second-best position, and his .199 batting average against standing as the third best.


Drew Thorpe demonstrated his prowess over 18 starts with High-A Hudson Valley, where he maintained a 2.81 ERA. Impressively, his performance escalated in his final five starts with Double-A Somerset, where he achieved an even more remarkable 1.48 ERA. Recognizing his outstanding achievements, he was awarded the Pitching Prospect of the Year title by MiLB.com – not just within the Yankees’ organization, but across the entire minor leagues.

Merely a year and a half ago, Drew Thorpe was chosen as the 61st overall selection in the second round of the draft from Cal Poly. This draft also saw the Yankees securing outfielder Spencer Jones in the first round.

In a time when pitchers are increasingly known for their high velocity, Drew Thorpe distinguishes himself by not topping radar gun readings. Despite this, he has rapidly climbed the prospect rankings, thanks to his diverse and effective five-pitch repertoire, notably featuring an elite changeup.

During the midseason, Hudson Valley manager Sergio Santos mentioned that Drew Thorpe could be someone against whom a batter might feel relatively at ease in the batter’s box. However, Santos noted that despite this comfort, hitters often ended up walking away with a 0-for-4 performance, consisting of a couple of groundouts, a strikeout, and a pop-up.

Batters might find comfort in facing Drew Thorpe as his fastball typically resides in the low 90s, sparing him from overwhelming opponents. Instead, He excels with a changeup he refers to as his “bread and butter,” in addition to his fastball. His repertoire extends to two sliders—an expansive one and a more forceful, gyroscopic version—alongside a cutter, a staple taught to many of the Yankees’ pitching prospects.

A pitcher with a varied arsenal

Yankees prospect Drew Thorpe
Somerset Patriot

While Drew Thorpe possesses a reliable go-to pitch, he boasts a wealth of options to select from in his arsenal.

In July, Drew Thorpe mentioned that having a variety of pitches in his arsenal made things easier for him on the mound. He highlighted that this diversity provided him with multiple options to choose from during games, especially as games progressed. Drew Thorpe noted that facing hitters multiple times aided in his ability to mix and match pitches effectively.

In his final 15 starts of the season, Drew Thorpe achieved at least seven innings on seven occasions, credited to the diversity in his pitch selection and the effectiveness of his changeup—a pitch that has showcased dominance throughout his life.

Having made a crucial adjustment to his grip on the changeup during his high school years, Drew Thorpe transitioned away from a two-seam type, opting for one that closely mirrored his fastball. Crafted to resemble his low-90s fastball upon release, this modified changeup features vertical, diving action and decelerates to the low-80s. Drew Thorpe’s changeup played a pivotal role in his collegiate career, contributing to 284 strikeouts in 223 innings. Notably, professional hitters have found it equally challenging to make contact with this formidable pitch.

The more velocity Drew Thorpe can generate, the more effective his offspeed pitches become. Although velocity isn’t his standout attribute, it notably increased in his inaugural professional season.

As part of his offseason objectives, Drew Thorpe aims to further enhance his velocity, building upon the progress made. The Yankees, led by Director of Pitching Sam Briend, have demonstrated proficiency in helping pitchers achieve velocity gains.

Drew Thorpe mentioned that his velocity hadn’t reached the desired level yet but added that he and the team were actively working on improving it. He also noted his physical attributes, being listed at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds.

The alternative options for Juan Soto trade

Should the Yankees opt not to include Drew Thorpe and Michael King in trade discussions, they possess alternative pitching options to entice San Diego.

Clarke Schmidt remains under contract until after the 2027 season, providing a viable pitching asset.

Pitchers Jhony Brito and Randy Vasquez exhibited promise during their debut seasons. Prospects like Chase Hampton, Will Warren, Richard Fitts, Clayton Beeter, and Brock Selvidge are expected to draw interest.

Given the Padres’ possession of one of the league’s premier bats, they are likely to be discerning in their trade negotiations, seeking a substantial return.

The Yankees have faced challenges in developing hitting prospects within their system but have experienced considerable success in nurturing pitching talent. This track record should prove advantageous in their endeavors to potentially acquire Juan Soto.

Santos mentioned that Briend’s team of pitching experts had mastered the process to a great extent, referring to it as a well-refined science. He expressed confidence in their ability to continue developing and producing pitchers as long as possible.

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