What to expect from Drew Thorpe

June 11th, 2024

As the White Sox struggle through the worst season in their 123-year history, their future is much more enticing than their present. Several of their better prospects have made their big league debuts this season, including third baseman Bryan Ramos and right-handers Nick Nastrini and Jonathan Cannon.

Now for the first time in 2024, Chicago is promoting a Top 100 Prospect. Right-hander , the biggest prize in the four-player package the White Sox received in the Dylan Cease trade with the Padres in March, will make his first start in the Majors on Tuesday night against the Mariners.

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That was the second offseason blockbuster that featured Thorpe as a prospect centerpiece. Three months earlier, the Yankees included him in a five-player bundle to pry Juan Soto from San Diego.

Ranked No. 54 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, Thorpe has repeatedly dominated without lighting up radar guns. He was a consensus All-American in his Draft year in 2022 when he set a Cal Poly record with 149 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings before signing with New York for $1,187,600 as a second-round choice.

Thorpe made a spectacular pro debut in 2023, earning MLB Pipeline Pitching Prospect of the Year accolades while leading the Minors in strikeouts (182 in 139 1/3 innings) and strikeout minus walk percentage (26.9) while also ranking second in wins (14), winning percentage (.875), WHIP (0.98) and strikeout percentage (34.0). Despite getting promoted to Double-A in early August, he came within a strikeout of winning the High-A South Atlantic League pitching triple crown and was named the circuit's pitcher of the year.

Thorpe, the club's third-ranked prospect, has continued to excel as part of a prospect-laden rotation at Double-A Birmingham this spring. He ranks second in the Minors in wins (seven), third in ERA (1.35) and seventh in WHIP (0.87). He tops the Southern League in victories and ERA while placing second in WHIP and third in opponent average (.170).

The key to the 23-year-old's success is one of the best changeups in the game. It sits in the low 80s and looks like a fastball out of his hand before slowing down and taking a sharp right turn at the plate. He throws his cambio for plenty of strikes (69 percent of the time, according to Synergy) while getting plenty of swings and misses in the strike zone (35 percent) and chases outside of it (40 percent).

Thorpe's changeup keeps hitters from teeing off on his fastball, which parks in the low 90s, maxes out at 95 and stands out more for his command than velocity or movement. The Utah native's low-80s slider with depth is a solid offering that he can turn into a mid-80s cutter that's his least effective option.

Originally recruited by Cal Poly as a two-way player, Thorpe is more athletic than most pitchers and repeats his simple delivery with ease. He not only pounds the strike zone, issuing just 55 walks in 34 Minor League starts covering 199 1/3 innings, but he also locates his pitches well and rarely leaves them in a spot where hitters can do much damage.

Thorpe is the most advanced mound prospect with the White Sox and will be a refreshing addition to a pitching staff that ranks last in the big leagues in walk rate (4.1 per nine innings) and 29th in ERA (4.94). He should provide competent innings and fit nicely as Chicago's third-best starter behind Garrett Crochet and Erick Fedde. Thorpe's ceiling probably is as a No. 3 starter, though he has exceeded expectations early in his pro career.