In Lewis Thorpe, the Minnesota Twins have a high-ceiling young lefty option for their future rotation.
In 2011, Lewis Thorpe was awarded a ‘Golden Arm’ award by the Australian Baseball Federation. The award signifies to Australian fans that the recipient is expected to accomplish great things in baseball. In fact, former Minnesota Twins pitcher turned Toronto Blue Jay bullpen-stud, Liam Hendricks was awarded three ‘Golden Arms’ before making the Majors in 2012. As a fellow ‘Golden Arm’ recipient, Thorpe came to the United States with his sights set high.
Name: Lewis Thorpe
Position: SP Age: 20
Height: 6’1’’ Weight: 160
Throws: L Bats: R
The southpaw put up a 2.36 ERA over 42 innings pitched in his teenage years in Australia. The Minnesota Twins liked what they had seen from the then-16 year-old, and in July of 2012 offered the teen a 500k signing bonus. In his debut season stateside, the southpaw exhibited elite command, striking out 64 and allowing only six walks over 44 innings. The following year in Class-A, then-18 year-old Thorpe posted a 3.52 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in 71 ⅔ innings, and it appeared as though the sky was the limit in terms of the lefty’s potential with the organization.
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Then disaster struck. Near the end of the 2014 season the ‘Golden Arm’ was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, an often seen diagnosis in baseball that can result in a legendary surgery known as Tommy John. Initially both Thorpe and the Twins agreed that nursing the injury and coming back the following season fresh would be best. That following Spring, while rehabbing his arm, the ligament actually tore. The tear necessitated an undesirable surgery if Thorpe planned to continue his career as a pitcher.
On February 9th, Thorpe had his first bullpen session in over nine months.
Though the ‘Golden Arm’ award is probably named solely due to the high quality nature of the arms awarded, there is actually a ‘Golden Arm’ tale that is worth discussing. ‘The Golden Arm,’ a piece of folklore, is a story of an individual with a golden artificial limb. When the main character passes away, the golden arm is taken from their grave. So offended by the theft, the deceased rises to take back the golden arm that was rightfully theirs. It is a tale with moral underpinnings, but also one of reclamation.
On February 9th, Thorpe had his first bullpen session in over nine months. Much like the folklore character, Thorpe has been deprived of his talented arm. The question is whether he will complete his reclamation journey and return to the dominance that he had exhibited before his injuries set in. With the surgery behind him, the Twins hope to use 2016 to get an idea of whether his arm can fully recover. As long as Thorpe’s arm proves durable, Minnesota will have a high-ceiling young lefty option for the rotation. Though his youth and the Twins’ pitching depth will keep him from immediately contributing to the big league club, he’s slotted to be a rising star in the farm system.