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White Sox Prospect Drew Thorpe Set for MLB Debut Tuesday

It was announced on Sunday that Drew Thorpe, the Chicago White Sox's No. 3 prospect and No. 54 overall prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline, will make his MLB debut on Tuesday. The South Siders have been the worst team in the big leagues by a long shot, as they have yet to reach 20 wins. However, Chicago has a lot of promise down in the farm system, and they are ready to show some of that off with Thorpe skipping Triple-A Charlotte and going up right from Double-A Birmingham. 


Professional Background

Thorpe attended California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) from 2020 to 2022, and after a dominant junior season, he was rated as one of the top 100 prospects for the 2022 MLB Draft. The right-hander struck out 149 batters while walking just 25 over 15 starts for Cal Poly in 2022. The New York Yankees then selected Thorpe with their second-round pick in the draft at 61st overall and signed him to a $1,187,600 bonus. In his pro debut season of 2023, Thorpe led the Minors in strikeouts (182 in 139 1/3 innings), strikeout minus walk percentage (26.9), and swinging-strike rate (18.6 percent) while he ranked second in WHIP (0.98) and strikeout percentage (34.0) between High-A Hudson Valley and Double-A Somerset to earn MLB Pipeline Pitching Prospect of the Year honors. 

Following that breakout, the then-No. 8 prospect in the Yankees’ system was traded to the San Diego Padres as part of the blockbuster deal that sent superstar Juan Soto to the Bronx in December. A few months later, the Padres turned around and flipped the 23-year-old to the White Sox in the deal that sent right-hander Dylan Cease to the Friars in March. 


Thorpe has posted a 1.35 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 56 strikeouts to 17 walks over 60 innings in 11 starts for the Double-A Birmingham Barons this season. In his last start on Wednesday against Chicago Cubs’ Double-A affiliate Tennessee, Thorpe struck out seven in six innings and allowed just one run. 



What the Scouts Say

Thorpe was heralded as owning one of the best changeups in the 2022 draft and has also earned double-plus grades for his swing-and-miss ability, including getting hitters to chase out of the zone with that low-80s offering. Thorpe gets similar chases with his fading low-80s slide, which has added more depth since last year. He doesn’t have high velocity with his fastball, as it sits in the high-80s to upper-90s and peaks at 95 mph, but he controls and mixes it well with his other offerings. The high strikeout rate is definitely a testament to that aforementioned change, which he sells very well before he fades out of the zone at the last second. Not only can he get chases, but batters will swing over the top of the pitch in the zone. 


Thorpe has advanced pitch ability, and the stuff and control to at least be a backend starter in a big league rotation. Cal Poly recruited him as a two-way player, and he has exceptional athleticism and strength to easily repeat his simple delivery. 


Facing a Familiar Face

In his first start on Tuesday night, the White Sox are facing the Seattle Mariners at 9:40 p.m. ET in Seattle. The Mariners are sending out a familiar face for Thorpe, as his former teammate at Cal Poly, Bryan Woo, will toe the slab out west. The pair of former teammates pitched together for the Mustangs in 2020 and 2021. 


Woo has posted a 3.34 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 117 strikeouts 33 walks over 121 1/3 innings in 24 starts in his pro career so far, which includes a 1.07 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings and six starts this season. 


Woo also jumped from Double-A to the majors after posting a 2.05 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 44 innings in 2023 for the Arkansas Travelers. 


“Calling guys up from Double-A, as opposed to Triple-A, is not that big a deal,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “We have a clear understanding and knowledge of the major leagues. There are boxes you have to be able to check to be able to get called up here, and Thorpe checks those boxes. He’s got good command and a plus-plus-plus pitch [changeup]. He’s a calm personality, has a good presence and is mature, so he checks some boxes.”


Main Image Credit: From MiLB.com

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