Jared Jones, Drew Thorpe Among Prospects With Workloads Worth Monitoring


Image credit: Jared Jones (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

It’s easy to assume every young pitcher is on some innings restriction in a given season. Digging into a pitcher’s recent workload history can better help us understand just how many innings one might expect from these young hurlers.

When conducting this analysis for 2023 rookie pitchers earlier this offseason, we better visualized Bryan Woo’s significant jump in innings pitched last year. We also realized just how “built up” Brandon Pfaadt is. Starting pitchers are balloons, and Pfaadt has displayed an ability to handle a meaningful workload as a young arm.

Pitching prospects are all question marks to a degree, but there’s a big difference in workload history between White Sox hurlers Noah Schultz and Drew Thorpe, for instance. That matters not just for fantasy baseball purposes, but for what prospect fans can expect from them in 2024.

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Remember that even the best young arms aren’t going to be built up to 200 innings. What does that mean for prospects if the saying in the majors is 180 is the new 200?

Among MiLB pitchers age 23 or younger over the past three seasons, Pfaadt is the only one to reach 160 innings in a single season.

Therefore, the best use of these inning totals is to compare pitching prospects to each other. Additionally, use them to figure out how soon—and for how long—they could make an impact in 2024 and beyond. A few will be spotlighted in further detail.

Drew Thorpe, RHP, White Sox

Thorpe topped out at Double-A last season, but after piling up 139.1 innings last season, it felt like he could make a big league impact in 2024. This is especially true given how quickly prospects have reached the majors in recent years. It also helped that he was moving from the Yankees to the Padres, where rotation help was badly needed.

Since then, Thorpe has been traded again, and while his supporting cast in Chicago isn’t what it would’ve been in San Diego, there’s still ample opportunity for him to pitch in the majors, and soon.

New York’s second-round pick in 2022, no prospect matched his combination of dominance and workload in 2023. Among pitchers age 22 or younger (min. 60 IP), he ranked fourth in innings and second in K-BB%. He finished top 15 in ERA, FIP, and K%.

This quote from our Yankees Minor League Player of the Year feature sums up his mindset:

“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.”

For fantasy purposes, Thorpe is best seen as a high-floor pitching prospect for those who don’t necessarily subscribe to TINSTAAPP. For White Sox fans, he’s a young pitcher capable of putting together a meaningful workload as early as 2024.

Jared Jones, RHP, Pirates

Perhaps no pitching prospect has elevated his stock this spring more than Jones.

BA subscribers hopefully had a head start on him after he popped as Roboscout’s No. 11 overall prospect for 2024.

Since then, the public has learned more about his hellacious stuff, particularly thanks to his spring Statcast data:

Jones has always focused on throwing enough strikes. His 9.5 BB% from 2023 isn’t terrible, and it’s worth noting that he had a 36.1 ball% between Double-A and Triple-A. According to Jeff Zimmerman’s walk rate equivalents, Jones’ ball% is more in line with a 7.6 BB%.

The 22-year-old logged 82 innings at Triple-A last season and has thrown 120+ innings in each of the past two years. As of this writing, he’s still in competition to break camp as the Pirates’ No. 5 starter. Regardless of whether or not he does, Jones will soon have the opportunity to establish himself as a reliable member of Pittsbugh’s rotation.

Will Warren, RHP, Yankees

Here’s another opportunity for fantasy players to examine a team’s current pitching depth and determine how likely (and how soon) a prospect might receive a chance in the big league rotation.

With Gerrit Cole presently sidelined, there’s an opportunity for the No. 5 spot in New York this season:

Warren’s absence from the 40-man roster hurts his chances of winning the job this spring, but if Cole is transferred to the 60-day IL, that’ll create an opening.

Whether his debut is in April, May or June, there’s a runway for him to force his way into the rotation.

Building up enough to log 129 IP in each of the past two seasons certainly helps, as does a deep and varied arsenal of pitches, highlighted by a very sweepy sweeper:

Quick Hits

  • Rhett Lowder has yet to make his pro debut, but reaching 120 innings at Wake Forest last year means a big league debut could come as early as 2024.
  • Bubba Chandler, Chase Hampton and River Ryan saw big workload increases from 2022 to 2023.
  • As for the high-end of the elite pitching prospects, Ricky Tiedemann has a ways to go before he’s ready to be a consistent part of a big league rotation. A healthy 2024 is more important than the per-inning dominances he’s flashed throughout his career.
  • Tekoah Roby is a good example of examining multiple years of workloads. Injuries limited him to under 60 IP last season, but his over 100 IP in 2022 means it’ll be easier for him to build back up.

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