In an organization where it seems nearly every pitcher relies on a fastball-slider combo, Drew Thorpe has stood out by being different.
The 22-year-old righthander mixed five pitches, but his changeup—which Double-A Somerset pitching coach Grayson Crawford estimates could rate as plus or double-plus—was the driving factor in Thorpe racking up a minor league-best 182 strikeouts.
“There’s a lot of deception on it for sure,” Crawford said. “The miss is the biggest thing . . . letting the hitters tell us where that needs to go, how much he needs to throw it.
“We’ve actually challenged him to throw some other things at times—because the changeup has played so well—just to help develop new pitches.”
Drafted in the second round in 2022 out of Cal Poly, Thorpe went 14-2 with a 2.52 ERA in 23 starts this season for High-A Hudson Valley and Somerset. In addition to his outstanding changeup, he throws a four-seam fastball, gyro and sweeper sliders and a cutter.
Thorpe’s fastball velocity has improved since college, but he sits a few ticks below average by pitching in the low 90s most days. It’s his command that helps the pitch play up.
“I’ve never been a high-velo guy, so that was the first priority from a pitching standpoint, was just being able to command and put the ball where I want to, when I need to,” Thorpe said.
“Ever since I was little and starting pitching and then going into college, that was where my sole focus was: pitchability. Just how to pitch, and the stuff would develop over time. I think it’ll continue to develop over my next couple years in pro ball.”
Thorpe also excels at game-planning, which also could expedite his path to the big leagues.
“I think the sky’s the limit,” Crawford said. “For him, I have no boundaries on what he can do. Time will tell where we go, but I see no reason to think he doesn’t pitch for us in the Bronx whenever the people who make those decisions are ready.”