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  • Cory Claus

Yankees Farm Report: Drew Thorpe Has Risen

The Yankees have already called up several of their best prospects, all of them hitters. It’s given the team and the fans renewed hope for next season, especially the historic start of Jasson Dominguez. But the team will still begin next season in desperate need of starting pitchers. While there don’t seem to be any aces down on the farm, one man has risen to look like at least a reliable rotation piece: Drew Thorpe.

The Future Home of Yankees Pitcher Drew Thorpe

The Yankees are getting a good look at possible position players for next year. It already seems set in stone that Jasson Dominguez will start next season in centerfield. If Everson Pereira and/or Oswald Peraza can round into form, the Yankees will have a much more potent offense than they did this year.

But they’re still going to need pitching, especially since it takes eight or nine reliable starters to make it through a season. After this season, however, the Yankees have only four: Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Clarke Schmidt and Nestor Cortes.

Domingo German might be back, as he’s only at the arbitration stage, but he’s got enough baggage that his return is doubtful. And it’s hard to imagine the team bringing back either Luis Severino or Frankie Montas. That leaves a lot of open rotation spots. The case is even more dire since two of the first four–Rodon and Cortes–can be very injury-prone.

Add it all up and the Yankees are going to need starters. They’ll likely add at least one through free agency, and they’re already giving Michael King a shot. Meanwhile, Randy Vasquez and Jhony Brito will once again serve as depth in the minors; they’re serviceable but not exciting.

So the team needs one of its few remaining high-upside minor league pitchers to blossom into a starter able to eat up innings next year. Fortunately, one of them has: Drew Thorpe.

Thorpe Checks All the Boxes

Thorpe has everything the Yankees are looking for. First is his excellent ERA and WHIP across two levels this year of 2.52 and 0.983, respectively. Even better is that he improved both of those numbers when he moved up to Double-A Somerset. There he’s pitched to a 1.48 ERA and 0.659 WHIP.

He’s also got a great strikeout-to-walk ratio, as well as an equally excellent strikeout-to-innings pitched ratio. Thorpe has struck out 182 batters in 139 innings while issuing just 38 walks. Pitchers strive for a two-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio in the MLB; Drew is at almost five-to-one. That all speaks to his control, which is why he’s doing better than guys like Chase Hampton and Will Warren.

Hampton has a better fastball, but MLB rates his control at 50 out of 80–what they call average–while Thorpe is graded at 55, above average. Warren is rated at only 45.

The last piece of the puzzle is that Thorpe has already thrown 139 innings this season in a natural progression from the 104 he threw last year for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. That means he could throw 180-200 next season. This has been the one downside for Clarke Schmidt, for example. He only threw 91 innings last year, which has limited him this year as well as led to fatigue lately.

Not so for Thorpe next year.

Yankees Best Bet

None of this is to say that Thorpe is a sure thing. He still needs to prove himself at Triple-A. But the Yankees will likely not promote him until next year because the Rail-Riders are not playoff-bound, while Double-A Somerset is. They’re going to want to see what he can do in a playoff situation, which is how Randy Vasquez made his name last year.

The pickings are thin for starting pitchers down on the farm, especially after last year’s clearance sale. Luis Gil just returned from injury, while Chase Hampton, Yoendrys Gomez, and Will Warren look more and more like bullpen pieces, at best.

But the Yankees don’t necessarily need to find a front-end starter. They’ve got Cole, perhaps the best pitcher in the game. And they’ve got Schmidt, who looks like a three, at worst. If Rodon can be close to what he was the two years before this one, he’s a one or two; if. That means that all the team needs is a four or a five, depending on how nasty Nestor is next year.

Thorpe looks like he could fill that role at some point next season. He’ll almost definitely start the season at Scranton, where he needs seasoning. But he will be called up at some point. When he is, he looks like he’ll be better than the options the Yankees have used this year.

And that might make all the difference for a team already on the rise.


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