While the Yankees have been notoriously cautious about promoting top talent for years (Austin Wells says hello), their most egregious example in recent years might still be ongoing and stuck in the mud.
Drew Thorpe, New York's second-round pick from 2022, came to the Yankees' system with a polished arsenal, superstar changeup, and a fastball that team experts believed they could squeeze additional velocity from. Through July, it appears they were right.
Even the collegiate version of Thorpe seemed likely to do well at High-A Hudson Valley, but this newly polished version? Hoo boy. Wheeeew boy. The 22-year-old has been on another level since mid-May, culminating in a 10-1 record, 2.08 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 124 strikeouts in 99.1 innings across 16 starts.
Sounds like the experiment worked! Time for the next steps, after Thorpe proved all he could prove at High-A! Somerset, and the next challenge, awaits! ...Right?
So far, it seems the Yankees would rather see just how high Thorpe can push the all-time Hudson Valley Renegades single-season strikeout record. As of this writing, he remains in High-A, knifing through the competition as a 22-year-old yearning for something more advanced.
Yankees pitching prospect Drew Thorpe has proven all he can prove at High-A
There's a chance -- a chance -- that Thorpe gets elevated to Double-A this summer and gets his butt whipped. That -- and it brings me no pleasure to report this -- is part of the game. That would certainly be frustrating for him, personally! It would also be ... part of it.
No player's development process is linear, but it certainly seems like Thorpe has reached the apex of that ascending line at his current level. Maybe the Yankees want to keep the right-handed changeup artist from Cal Poly right where he is until after the trade deadline, so as not to potentially blemish his line as teams line up to scout him? Maybe, if he doesn't get moved as the centerpiece of a trade package, he'll be immediately promoted to Double-A once there's no more narrative left to craft?
College starter Bryce Warrecker, a 20th-round pick by the Yankees this year who was expected to go much higher, also attended Cal Poly and pitched alongside Thorpe. Surprisingly, he signed with the Yanks. Maybe some of that was Thorpe getting in his ear and talking up New York's pitching lab? Maybe it wasn't. Either way, it seems like Thorpe is very much enjoying the instruction he's gotten so far. It also seems like it's time for him to be given a new challenge as a just reward.