• TD Top Prospects: #9 Lewis Thorpe

    A surprise top-notch Twins starting pitching prospect? Yes, please. Let's play five questions:

    Who?
    That’s exactly what I said when Lewis Thorpe’s name started popping up on national prospect lists this offseason. Shame on me - we’ve been tracking him here for months.

    But the rest of you are forgiven. Thorpe has only been with the Twins since the middle of last year and was signed as a 16-year-old from Melbourne, Australia. He's only had eight starts in the minors. He wasn’t on many folks' radar going into the season – until the southpaw sprouted into his current 6’2” frame and flashed….

    What?
    …a 92 mph fastball that can be dialed up to 95 at times. That led to 64 K in 44 IP in the Gulf Coast Rookie League, a league in which he was playing as a 17-year-old. Add that he’s left-handed and still growing and you can see why even national evaluators are paying attention.

    Where?
    The next natural step would be Elizabethton in the short-season rookie Appalachian League, which is where top draft pick Kohl Stewart ended his season last year. That would be a fairly conservative approach – but Thorpe would still be younger than Stewart was in that league. And if the Twins are feeling aggressive, he could find himself just a few hours south of the Twin Cities in Cedar Rapids as an 18-year-old.

    When?
    That will be as close as he’ll get to Target Field for a while. Even if he doesn’t stumble at any level, he likely won’t make it to the majors as a starter until 2018. By then, even Ricky Nolasco’s 4-year deal will be finished. Thorpe would hopefully be filling out a rotation chock full of young high-end arms, including Stewart and JO Berrios.

    Why?
    He’s ranked #9 because players with this kind of upside are valuable. Clearly, everyone will feel a lot more comfortable if he starts climbing the minor league ladder – or even had a full season of pitching to evaluate. But a kid Thorpe’s age in the States would likely be entering his senior year in high school, and we would be debating exactly where he would fall in the first round of the MLB draft.

    Like any 17-year-old pitcher, he has a long way to go and the odds are stacked against him. But he’s already surprised us plenty. There's no longer an excuse to not be paying attention.
    This article was originally published in blog: TD Top Prospects: #9 Lewis Thorpe started by John Bonnes
    Comments 40 Comments
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      A seventeen-year-old is tough to gauge, but right now, what's his ceiling? Throw out the name of a HoFer caliber pitcher to make me happy.
    1. drock2190's Avatar
      drock2190 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      A seventeen-year-old is tough to gauge, but right now, what's his ceiling? Throw out the name of a HoFer caliber pitcher to make me happy.
      Let's not tag him yet, he's got a long ways to go.

      Plus there isn't much info to gauge a comparision.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      OK, we won't tag him, but consider MLB pitchers who are:

      1.) Left-handed,
      2.) sit 92-93, and touch 95
      3.) have four big league pitches
      4.) has terrific control

      Now add four years or so of actual experience and hope for health...
    1. the_youngster's Avatar
      the_youngster -
      What excites me is the supposed state of his current delivery and mechanics. I remember hearing on multiple occasions that he has solid mechanics in his delivery (however I cannot seem to remember where) and after watching him throw on YouTube, to my untrained eye, he looks solid and fluid with no "herky-jerky" action. His fast growing body coupled with his delivery/age/succes (albeit short lived thus far) have me eager to observe how he develops from now on. He currently sits at #8 on my list, in between Berrios and Kepler. However upside is a key aspect to my personal rankings (along with my desire for unique international players to help assist baseball cross borders around the world). I am also interested in following fellow Aussie pitcher Sam Gibbons.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      OK, we won't tag him, but consider MLB pitchers who are:

      1.) Left-handed,
      2.) sit 92-93, and touch 95
      3.) have four big league pitches
      4.) has terrific control

      Now add four years or so of actual experience and hope for health...
      Yup. Plus those smooth mechanics- which should mitigate some of the health concerns and, with a developing body, portent another incremental velocity uptick eventually to the mid-to-high-90s. All of which is why I think he should be ranked as the #3 Twins overall pitching prospect, behind only Meyer and Stewart.
    1. wabene's Avatar
      wabene -
      People are talking about his smooth mechanics, but wasn't he the guy with the whadyacallit inverted M or just plain Dubya?
    1. roger's Avatar
      roger -
      Thorpe was one of the most dominant pitchers in the Aussie League this winter. Lineups he faced included mostly High A ball players with some AA, AAA and a few big leaguers mixed in. His performance there tells me he will likely see Cedar Rapids this spring/summer.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by wabene View Post
      People are talking about his smooth mechanics, but wasn't he the guy with the whadyacallit inverted M or just plain Dubya?
      Maybe he has ths problem out of the stretch, but in this video I see a high kick, a long stride and very little shoulder stress. Pretty muscular-looking thighs and glutes for 6'1" and 160#s.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Sv485wyxyU


    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by roger View Post
      Thorpe was one of the most dominant pitchers in the Aussie League this winter. Lineups he faced included mostly High A ball players with some AA, AAA and a few big leaguers mixed in. His performance there tells me he will likely see Cedar Rapids this spring/summer.
      Here are his numbers in the offseason. Like you point out, safe to say much better competition than the rookie league he was in least year and he just turned 18 in November.

      7 starts, 36.2 IP, 3-2, 2.45 ER, 30 K, 10 BB, 1.22 WHIP, 1 HR allowed, .241 Average.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Maybe he has ths problem out of the stretch, but in this video I see a high kick, a long stride and very little shoulder stress. Pretty muscular-looking legs for 6'1" and 160#s.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Sv485wyxyU

      Yeah, he looks smooth and does have a good stride. Most Twins pitchers don't stride much and I hope shortening the stride is not an organizational decision that they will later do with Thorpe.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      A seventeen-year-old is tough to gauge, but right now, what's his ceiling? Throw out the name of a HoFer caliber pitcher to make me happy.
      He's far enough away that I think you can say potential ace.

      What I've read is 3 potential plus pitches though needing refinement. He's a lefty already throwing in the low 90s and can hit 95. He could add a few ticks to that as he ages. Scouts have said he'd be a first rounder this June if he was in the draft, so he's a good prospect. He's 17 also, so dominating the GCL at that age is impressive (though GCL dominance doesn't mean what it would had he dominated the MWL). He continued doing this in the Aussie league where his competition is much much older, and some of them have succeeded at higher levels. So in a nutshell, I have a mancrush on him.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Maybe he has ths problem out of the stretch, but in this video I see a high kick, a long stride and very little shoulder stress. Pretty muscular-looking thighs and glutes for 6'1" and 160#s.
      Just an FYI - Never trust the MLB.com's height/weight listings for prospect players.

      Thorpe has added significant weight from when he signed. Baseball America lists him at 6'2" 215 now, and he's gonna add even more.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Lein View Post
      Just an FYI - Never trust the MLB.com's height/weight listings for prospect players.

      Thorpe has added significant weight from when he signed. Baseball America lists him at 6'2" 215 now, and he's gonna add even more.
      Yep, part of the reason he went from a marginal signing to "holy crap" is that he put on 50 lbs (!) in one year, which corresponded in an uptick from a high 80s fastball to sitting at 92mph with the ability to wick it up to 95 or so.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Yep, part of the reason he went from a marginal signing to "holy crap" is that he put on 50 lbs (!) in one year, which corresponded in an uptick from a high 80s fastball to sitting at 92mph with the ability to wick it up to 95 or so.
      Haha, I feel like I've said the same exact thing around here about 10 times in the last week!
    1. Nate Haseman's Avatar
      Nate Haseman -
      [QUOTE=jokin;194771]Maybe he has ths problem out of the stretch, but in this video I see a high kick, a long stride and very little shoulder stress. Pretty muscular-looking thighs and glutes for 6'1" and 160#s.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Sv485wyxyU

      Coach Lou Brown would not approve of his attire in this video. We wear caps and sleeves at this level, son. But in all seriousness, holy cow is this kid smooth for his age! After the whole Liam Hendriks let down I was ready to write off Aussie baseball for good. Thank you Lewis Thorpe for restoring my faith in your fair continent.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      With my admittedly strong bias, I'm kind of hoping the Twins will look at what he did in winter ball and conclude there's no good reason for him to spend much, if any, time in Elizabethton. I assumed after last season that that's where he'd spend most of 2014, but if Australian Winter League is really comparable to Class A or higher, then there's not much point in having him spend half a season dominating a lower level just because it's the "next natural step."

      I don't believe in rushing guys, but I also don't like the idea of essentially wasting a year of development by letting a pitcher throw at a level lower than what he's already demonstrated dominance over.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim Crikket View Post
      With my admittedly strong bias, I'm kind of hoping the Twins will look at what he did in winter ball and conclude there's no good reason for him to spend much, if any, time in Elizabethton. I assumed after last season that that's where he'd spend most of 2014, but if Australian Winter League is really comparable to Class A or higher, then there's not much point in having him spend half a season dominating a lower level just because it's the "next natural step."
      If Thorpe stays in Elizabethton, I suspect it would be for maturation reasons, not talent reasons. Not that the kid is immature or anything, just that I know the Twins like to keep the younger kids at the lower levels where the spotlight is dimmer and the venues smaller.
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      Between Lewis Thorpe, Stephen Gonsalves, and Felix Jorge, not to mention Kohl Stewart, the Twins added a big group of very high upside arms in the last 12 months. Of course, they also added Alex Meyer and Trevor May in the past 14 months, so that is 6 significant arms added in short order.

      I would kind of like to add Phil Hughes to this list of high upside arms, but I am not sure it fits in the same category.
    1. amjgt's Avatar
      amjgt -
      Chris Sale comp?
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      If Thorpe stays in Elizabethton, I suspect it would be for maturation reasons, not talent reasons. Not that the kid is immature or anything, just that I know the Twins like to keep the younger kids at the lower levels where the spotlight is dimmer and the venues smaller.
      I could see him spending time in Elizabethton with a call-up to CR as other pitchers there move up. Aside from the reasons pointed out by Brock, I don't think he'd be ready just yet for the full season workload.

      He could go E-town/CR this year. CR/FM next year. NB in 2016 as a 20-year old. Knocking on MLB door at 21. That feels plenty aggressive to me.
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