A couple hours ago, the Yankees made Vanderbilt outfielder Spencer Jones their top pick of the 2022 MLB Draft and 25th overall. With the second round back on the opening night of the three-day draft though, Jones doesn’t have the spotlight completely to himself.
So with the 61st overall pick — one beautifully announced by 2009 champion Nick Swisher — the Yankees nabbed Drew Thorpe, a right-handed pitcher out of Cal Poly. He’s 21 now but will turn 22 in October, and each of Baseball America (62), MLB Pipeline (61), and The Athletic (66) had him going right around this spot. Brownie points go to MLB Pipeline for nailing it exactly, which is pretty improbable already at this stage of the draft.
Thorpe has been a rock-solid starter since 2020 for Cal Poly. The 6-foot-4 Utah native has made 34 starts for the Mustangs, and he topped out in 2022 with 104.2 innings across 15 starts, during which he struck out 149 batters (he also fanned 104 in 2021) and posted a 2.32 ERA, 12.8 K/9, 2.1 BB/9. The most sparkling number of them all was a minuscule 0.860 WHIP — not too shabby.
Cal Poly RHP Drew Thorpe has faced the minimum thru 3 IP, allowed 1 hit, 6 K. 89-92 FB. Loves the CH and for good reason. Low 80s with run. Not afraid to use it any count, RHH or LHH. SL low 80s too w/ late, sharp break at times.#mlbdraft | @DSeifertD1PBR | @d1baseball pic.twitter.com/UA0uiMl0YN— Nathan Rode (@NathanRode) March 26, 2022
Thorpe was actually unsure if he would take the mound or another position when he got to campus, but coach Larry Lee figured out how to harness his potential. Since coming to Cal Poly, the righty has also pitched for Team USA and the Cape Cod League. Keith Law of The Athletic noted that he’s thrown 60-percent offspeed pitches, and Baseball America marks his changeup as his best offering with a 65 grade.
MLB Pipeline had some excellent insight on that changeup:
He throws it in the low-80s with excellent arm speed for deception and with a ton of sink, getting outs via the strikeout as well as weak contact on the ground. He throws it almost as frequently as his 91-93 mph fastball, a heater that has good riding action and sink at the bottom of the zone and could increase in velocity as he adds strength.
Drew Thorpe has a disgusting changeup pic.twitter.com/a9SC1wUTSN— YankeeMetrics (@YankeeMetrics) July 18, 2022
Thorpe’s slider is a little behind but still solid at 55 (though MLB Pipeline tagged it as a 45), and he throws his pitches with 60 control — probably not surprising given his sterling walk rate. The fastball is only OK at the moment, as it sits 89-93 mph and is described by BA as “straight and hittable,” so there’s a reason that it’s not his go-to. Nonetheless, starting pitchers like Kyle Hendricks have carved out steady careers in the majors by taking a sick changeup and building from there, and it’s certainly promising that the slider has potential as well. (And the Yankees have worked magic with velocity in the past, too.)
Jones will inevitably be the Yankees’ most exciting pick of the day, but Thorpe is a solid high-floor get at No. 61, especially with that changeup. New York shouldn’t have too many issues signing the sophomore.
That’s it for the Yankees on Day 1! Madison will have another post up in a little while that will recap the first day of the draft and allow you to give the team some opening feedback. Next up will be Day 2 and Rounds 3-10; that will get started on MLB.com at 2pm ET tomorrow.