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Lewis Thorpe's Talent Remains Obvious

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When you achieve the spectacular before your career has really even begun, everything that comes afterward can seem like a letdown. The Twins are trying to halt that narrative with 22-year-old lefthander Lewis Thorpe.

The Australian was just 17 when he dominated Team USA’s defending world champions in the 17U playoffs in Taiwan in 2013, pitching 5.2 shutout innings with the ease of a veteran pro.

"He’s still a little bit mythological in the international world, a little bit legendary,” vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff said. "It’s still talked about by international scouts—one of the best games they've ever seen in that environment.”

The Twins believed they had a potential breakthrough player when they signed him for $500,000 in 2012, perhaps the first Australian starter to become a star in America. But Tommy John surgery and a months-long battle with mononucleosis cost Thorpe the 2015 and 2016 seasons, and tamped down the hype.

But Radcliff hasn’t given up on the hard-throwing lefty, who began this season at Double-A Chattanooga.

"He’s in a better place right now than he’s ever been,” Radcliff said. "There’s never an issue when he’s on the mound. He’s got an uncanny, unique mound presence, more than any Aussie I’ve ever seen.”

Thorpe's talent remains obvious to scouts: a fastball that touches 95 mph out of a difficult-to-read delivery and a hard breaking ball that he throws with deception. He struck out 17 in his first 14 innings this season, with only one walk.

That he also allowed four home runs and posted a 5.79 ERA is a sign that he’s still working on mixing his pitches, Radcliff said.

Thorpe had amassed fewer than 200 pro innings when the Twins added him to the 40-man roster in November to shield him from the Rule 5 draft. That hints at his potential upside.

"He never gave up,” Radcliff said. "He could be getting close to taking some big steps.”

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