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Futures Game Notebook: Lewis Thorpe Makes It Back

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(Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lewis Thorpe has a particularly unique appreciation for being chosen for the Futures Game.

Not long ago, his career appeared in jeopardy after he missed two full seasons to injury and illness. On Sunday afternoon, standing in the Nationals Park visitor’s clubhouse, Thorpe took a break from getting dressed to soak in his surroundings and think about how far he’d come.

“It’s starting to come to reality,” Thorpe said. “Listening to Big Papi (World manager David Ortiz) talk … it’s just an honor to be here with a great bunch of dudes and I’m excited.”

Thorpe, a Twins lefthanded pitching prospect from Australia, missed the 2015 season after having Tommy John surgery. As his rehab neared its end, Thorpe contracted mononucleosis and missed all of 2016.

It got so bad he felt like a shell of his former self, and lifting even a single weight became an ordeal.

“It was bad, I lost like 30 pounds and just couldn’t move out of bed,” Thorpe, 22, said. “They still made me come in to do stuff but I was just very low energy. It was hard.”

The two full seasons away took a toll, but Thorpe slowly put the weight back on and made it back to the mound, pitching 83 innings in 2017 as the Twins slowly worked him back in.

This year the restrictions are off, and Thorpe is excelling. He is 4-4, 3.95 with 106 strikeouts and 24 walks through 84.1 innings this season at Double-A Chattanooga.

Most notably, he leads the Southern League in swinging strike percentage.

“It’s really just reading swings and watching a lot of video and scouting reports and me being able to put my fastball wherever I want it,” Thorpe said. “I’ve got a lot of carry on it so I throw it up a lot. That’s why I probably get a lot of swings and misses I think.”

Thorpe’s been getting the swings and misses in bunches, and thus finds himself as one of 10 pitchers on the World roster for the Futures Game. Considering the state he was in just two years ago, it’s a signature moment for Thorpe in his return.

LUZARDO RETURNS TO WASHINGTON

Jesus Luzardo always thought he’d be starting games at Nationals Park. It just happened a little differently than originally planned.

The Nationals drafted Luzardo in the second round in 2016, but they traded him to the Athletics one year later in the deal that brought relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington.

Luzardo has since rapidly risen up the A’s system and, in a twist of fate, will start for the World Team at Nationals Park representing Oakland and his ancestral home of Peru.

“It kind of amps you up a little more to be like ‘I’m back in Washington,’” Luzardo said, “but I have been trying to take it like any other day.”

Luzardo, 20, is 8-4, 2.30 between high Class and Double-A this year. Staring the Futures Game would be an honor regardless, but doing in Washington carries a little extra weight the young southpaw.

“It definitely means a lot,” Luzardo said. “I’ll always be thankful to the Nationals for drafting me and I’m thankful to the A’s for letting me come. I’m happy to be here at Nationals Park. It’s absolutely a little extra.”

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FLORIDA REUNION AT THE FUTURES GAME

The United States team has a University of Florida flair on its roster.

Giants pitcher Shaun Anderson, Mets first baseman Peter Alonso and Padres outfielder Buddy Reed were all teammates at Florida from 2014-2016 and were all drafted in 2016 together.

On Sunday, they were reunited in the same locker room for the first time since their days in Gainesville.

“It’s awesome, it’s like our own little 2014 reunion,” Reed said. “I’m so happy to see these guys. I’ve seen a couple of their families in the lobby. It’s just so cool to be back with these guys. You build a relationship over three years in Florida and then we’ve kept in touch throughout the minors.”

Reed and Alonso were freshman roommates, in fact. They often hung out with Anderson and his roommate, top Athletics prospect and fellow 2016 draft pick A.J. Puk.

Reed, Alonso and Anderson remain in a group text from their college days. Not long after the Futures Game rosters were announced, their text group sprang to life.

“I was super pumped up when I found out,” Alonso said. “It’s not every day that three college teammates from the same draft class get to play in the Futures Game. That speaks a lot about them, and that speaks a lot about the University of Florida too.”

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