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HomeSportMLBYankees' Thorpe named Prospect Pitcher of the Year

Yankees’ Thorpe named Prospect Pitcher of the Year

Yankees’ Thorpe named Prospect Pitcher of the Year

When the Yankees selected Drew Thorpe 61st overall in the 2022 MLB Draft, they chose to not have him pitch the rest of the season, instead building him up in the weight room for a debut in 2023.

That decision paid off immediately, as the 6-foot-4 right-hander turned in one of the most impressive debut seasons in recent memory. Thorpe was so dominant that he vaulted onto the Top 100 Prospects list and, on Monday, earned the Pitching Prospect of the Year Award at the MiLB Awards Show.

  • MLB Pipeline | Top 100 prospects | Prospect video

Not bad for his first professional season.

“I thought it went pretty well,” said Thorpe, who ranks as MLB’s No. 99 prospect. “There’s not much else to say. I don’t think it could have gone much better.”

Thorpe’s numbers at High-A Hudson Valley and Double-A Somerset are superb no matter how you slice them. He led all Minor League pitchers with 182 strikeouts. He finished fourth in ERA (2.52) among qualified full-season pitchers, and only one pitcher who threw as many innings as him (139 1/3) had an ERA within a run of him (Double-A teammate Richard Fitts, 3.48). And among qualified full-season pitchers with double-digit strikeouts per nine innings (11.76 K/9), he’s second in walk rate (2.45 BB/9). Naturally, he also led qualified pitchers with a 26.9 percent K-BB%.

Thorpe had plenty of strong competition, particularly from his own Draft class. Cade Horton (the Cubs’ seventh overall selection) and Robby Snelling (the Padres’ 39th overall selection) were also finalists for Pitching Prospect of the Year.

Although Horton only pitched 88 1/3 innings, he dominated at Single-A Myrtle Beach, High-A South Bend and Double-A Tennessee. The righty carried a 11.92 K/9 and gave up zero earned runs in 12 of his 21 starts, which helped him to a 2.65 ERA.

Snelling took a similar rise, going from Single-A Lake Elsinore to High-A Fort Wayne and ending the season with Double-A San Antonio — all at age 19. The lefty led all Minor Leaguers (min. 100 IP) with a 1.82 ERA thanks in part to only allowing four homers all season. He registered 10.24 K/9 and just a 2.95 BB/9.

But with impressive rate stats and top-of-the-line durability, Thorpe was the clear-cut winner. Starting in June, the Cal Poly product cemented himself as one of the best performers in the Minors with a stretch of six starts in which he gave up one run on 19 hits over 40 2/3 innings while striking out 49.

Thorpe has been able to take a leap in his first season after working with the Yankees to fine-tune his delivery to get more out of his lower half, which helped him add a little more than a tick of velocity to his fastball. That allowed his 65-grade changeup, thrown with a traditional circle grip, to play up even more.

“I think it’s just different than most changeups guys see,” Thorpe said. “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.”

After 18 impressive starts at High-A, Thorpe rose to the occasion at Double-A and pitched even better. He saw improvements in ERA (2.81 to 1.48), strikeout rate (32.4 percent to 40.0 percent) and walk rate (7.7 percent to 4.5 percent), all while learning how his stuff worked against stronger competition.

“They don’t chase much out of the zone, so you’ve got to pitch in the zone more,” Thorpe said. “Going in, I was just seeing what I could get miss-wise inside the zone versus out of the zone. Trying to compete with myself a little bit more. Obviously they’re better hitters; they’re not going to chase as much as they normally would in High-A.”

With another strong season in 2024, Thorpe will have a chance to join the Yankees rotation before long. He’s a rare breed — a command artist whose stuff is improving — and in rare company as just the second college pitcher — joining Jon Duplantier (2017) — to win Pitching Prospect of the Year.

Past winners:
Andrew Painter, Phillies
2021: Grayson Rodriguez, Orioles
2020: None
2019: MacKenzie Gore, Padres
2018: Dylan Cease, White Sox
2017: Jon Duplantier, D-backs
2016: Tyler Glasnow, Pirates
2015: Blake Snell, Rays
2014: Tyler Glasnow, Pirates



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