Minnesota Twins: Can Lewis Thorpe prove he belongs in the Majors?

Lewis Thorpe of the Minnesota Twins pitches during a spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
Lewis Thorpe of the Minnesota Twins pitches during a spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Lewis Thorpe has been a member of the Minnesota Twins organization since he was 16, when he was signed out of Australia and given a $500k signing bonus. He was brought into the organization with a fastball that sat in the high eighties, and looked to have a bright future ahead.

Flash forward to 2021. Thorpe is now 25. After nine years with the Twins (two seasons in the majors, four seasons in the minors, two seasons injured), Thorpe now faces a question that a lot of once promising prospect face: can he make it in the big leagues?

Lewis Thorpe is getting one more chance to prove he belongs with the Minnesota Twins.

When Thorpe entered the minors, he looked excellent, going 7-3 with a 2.96 ERA and averaging 11.2 K/9 over 28 games and 24 starts in his first two years. He even performed well enough to make it to No. 91 on Baseball Prospectus’ Top 100 prospect lists. Then disaster struck.

Thorpe tore his UCL, requiring Tommy John Surgery that forced him to miss all of 2015 and 2016. When he made his return to baseball, he appeared to be mostly the same. In 2017, he started in 16 of his 17 games and went 4-4 with a 2.93 ERA and a 9.9 K/9 rate at mostly High-A.

He would shoot up prospect lists again, returning to the Top 15 of the Twins’ top prospects, and followed up that year with another really solid year in 2018. In 2019, he made his big league debut, and from the end of June until the middle of August, he looked like exactly what the Twins envisioned him as. A very good long reliever with starter potential.

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It’s all been down hill since then. From August 25th, 2019 through the end of 2020, Thorpe has gone 2-2 with a 7.34 ERA with only an 8.1 K/9 rate. His fastball velocity and strikeout rate had reduced dramatically, and a lot of Twins fans are looking for him to get the boot. Why should he get another chance?

There’s a few reasons. First, Thorpe is a left-handed reliever, joining Devin Smeltzer and Taylor Rogers as the only lefties on the forty-man roster. There’s incentive for the Twins to help him make it work and succeed at the highest level.

Second, he has the stuff. Although his velocity dropped in 2020, it was still solid in 2019 and in his first Spring Training appearance went really well. Velocity was up, he didn’t allow a single run and he struck out two in two innings in his first action outside of the alternative site since August 29th.

Lastly, he was once thought of as the best left-handed pitcher in the Twins’ system. The Twins have always thought very highly of him, and now the team has been given a fourth option to see what he can do:

All this means is that Lewis Thorpe is being given the ultimate chance to prove he belongs at the highest level. With that last option, he will be given ample opportunity this year to prove he belongs, and I think he will.

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