Newly acquired Thorpe tries to flush White Sox debut

March 19th, 2024

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Before recorded his first out as a member of the White Sox on Monday, he looked up at the scoreboard at Camelback Ranch and saw a six in the run column of the division-rival Guardians. Not much went right during the organizational debut for the centerpiece of the return package from last week’s Dylan Cease deal.

After Thorpe spent most of 2023 dominating batters across High-A and Double-A, then carrying that over to his first three appearances of the Cactus League in ‘24, he was constantly on the ropes Monday in Chicago's eventual 8-5 loss.

Things began as ignominiously as possible, with Guardians leadoff batter Brayan Rocchio roping the first pitch of the game down the right-field line for a double. From there, the contact -- some loud, some soft -- continued to snowball, culminating in back-to-back home runs.

The unique rules of Spring Training allowed Thorpe to depart during the second frame but come back out for the third, but an eighth run came across on his ledger, which tied the most runs he has allowed in an outing as a professional. He struck out a pair, both on offspeed pitches.

“You just try and flush it, honestly,” Thorpe said. “Not much you can really do about it. I mean, it's baseball, [stuff] happens. … It’s Spring Training, so it's good to get it out of the way now, rather than during the season. But obviously, you never want it to go that way.

“It's over with, and get on to the next one.”

Thorpe’s connection to Cease began before last Wednesday. When he was tabbed as MLB Pipeline’s Pitcher of the Year for 2023 last October, he joined the former White Sox ace as one of eight different winners of the award dating back to ‘14.

Thriving upon a taste of elevated competition has been right on par for Thorpe since he was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2022 Draft. Given an aggressive assignment to High-A to begin his pro career, he powered through the level with five double-digit strikeout games before earning a bump to Double-A, where he notched a 1.48 ERA and .144 opponents’ average in five starts to conclude the year. In total, Thorpe’s 182 strikeouts led the Minor Leagues last season.

That success earmarked Thorpe as a hot commodity on the trade market, particularly for a Yankees club in win-now mode. San Diego landed the 23-year-old righty as the centerpiece of the Juan Soto trade, then flipped him just over three months later.

The acquisition of Thorpe gives the White Sox a pair of pitchers on the Top 100 overall prospects list (lefty Noah Schultz at No. 50 and Thorpe at No. 85) for the first time since 2021 when Michael Kopech and Garrett Crochet -- the latter of whom was named the club’s Opening Day starter Monday -- checked in preseason.

“Everyone is super welcoming,” Thorpe said of the White Sox. “It seems like the organization's headed in the right [direction]. So I'm just trying to get my feet wet, and come in and do what I can and try to help this organization win.”

Brebbia on the bump

While the White Sox took on the Guardians on the Major League field, the clubs also met on the back fields, which was where right-hander returned to action after a right calf strain shut him down near the start of camp.

Working a scoreless inning plus facing additional batters, the veteran reliever came out of a showing against Cleveland’s Triple-A-level squad full of positives. In addition to his stuff feeling up to par, he also fielded a ball off the mound and ran to back up third base.

“The wheel felt good as expected,” Brebbia said of his calf. “I didn't have to get down into Olympic sprinter blocks and take off for 80 yards trying to race against Usain Bolt, so I didn't have to test it like that. But I got a couple PFPs [pitcher's fielding practice] in, which felt great.”

The question of whether the White Sox will have one of their key relievers available come Opening Day remains too early to tell.

“The reps for pitches -- high-intensity pitches -- are still pretty high, because I haven't had to slow down whatsoever on keeping my arm loose,” Brebbia said.

While Brebbia noted that he “would feel absolutely ready to pitch in a game,” he couched that as unfair since he had been feeling ready for game action almost immediately after sustaining the injury, instead deferring to the medical staff to help bring him along.