Over the course of the past decade the Minnesota Twins have shown some scouting prowess in their findings down under. From the early stories of Peter Moylan and Liam Hendriks, to a recent hat tip pointed at James Beresford, Australia has produced big leagues in a Twins uniform. Although Todd Van Steensel displayed some nice minor league numbers, he got to Minnesota by way of the St. Paul Saints. The system still has more talent from down under, and one could be on his way north soon.
Lewis Thorpe has worked four times in 2019 for Triple-A Rochester. After two very bad outings against the same Lehigh Valley club to start the year, he’s settled in as the pitcher that previously appeared on top 100 prospect lists. Thorpe’s last two outings have seen him work 13.2 IP with a 1.98 ERA and .497 OPS against. He’s fanned 24 batters and walked just one. To call his work dominant would be putting it lightly.
As a lefty, Thorpe isn’t the traditional soft-tossing type. This is a guy who can blow the fastball by professional hitters, and his career 10.9 K/9 is plenty indicative of that reality. Since returning from both Tommy John surgery, and then mononucleosis, Lewis has picked up right where he left off. His walk rate hovers around 3.0 BB/9 which is probably a bit higher than you’d like but combatting that with solid hit and strikeout rates make for a strong profile.
To date Thorpe has just eight career starts at the Triple-A level. At just 23 years-old, that’s plenty impressive, but it’s also not a seasoned amount that reflects an immediate need for a promotion. Given the volatility at the back end of a starting rotation, we know that a need will arise in Minnesota sooner rather than later. Long term the Twins would like to see Thorpe come up and stick, but a spot start or something to get his feet wet could soon be on the horizon.
Over the past year we’ve seen Zack Littell, Kohl Stewart, and Stephen Gonsalves all make their debuts for the Twins. Thorpe trends more heavily towards the highly-touted prospect that Gonsalves resembles and could be handled in a similar fashion. That would mean he’d be destined for a later season role in which he’d stick long term. If the current level of production remains though, it’d be plenty logical for Rocco Baldelli to run him out on a day he simply needs a starter.
Back in February I opined that Thorpe was the guy to watch this season. He’s done very little to pump the brakes on that notion and making it a reality in the immediate future continues to become something to keep an eye on.