Twins’ Lewis Thorpe faces Tommy John Surgery


Twins’ pitching prospect Lewis Thorpe received some bad news this week, as he’ll now have to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), according LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.   As a result, the 19-year old will now miss the 2015 season and likely part of the of the 2016 season as well.  It can’t be a complete surprise for Thorpe as he was shut down last September with a sprained UCL. Instead of electing for surgery, he chose rehabilitation, which may have been the wrong decision. 

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Thorpe realized he had reinjured his elbow during one pitch, saying ““It just felt funny, like something I’d never felt before,” he told the Pioneer Press. “I told the trainer. He was like, ‘All right,’ and they shut me down. They were happy that I said something. That’s the right thing to do.” After an MRI, the news was confirmed and Thorpe will join a group of high-profile young players on the shelf, which includes the likes of Brady Aiken and Yu Darvish.

Prior to the 2014 season, the Australian lefty was ranked as the team’s seventh best prospect by Baseball America and the 91st best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball Prospectus.

Thorpe’s potential has been on full display over his minor league career, sporting a 2.80 ERA with 179 to 54 strikeout to walk ratio across 157 and 2/3 innings. At 16 years old, Thorpe was signed out of Australia for $500,000 and immediately flashed the type of skills that helped him dominate rookie-ball. His strikeout to walk rate was off the charts, posting better than a ten to one strikeout to walk ratio.

He was promoted to Single-A where he experienced a rough start, but quickly adjusted, sporting a 2.52 ERA and holding opposing batters to a .213 average over his last 54 innings. Most recently, he generated a high strikeout rate in Class-A Cedar Rapids, posting a 25.6% rate. With a low 90’s fastball with late movement he generates a lot of swing and misses.  More importantly, he possesses a plus change-up that is highly advanced for his age.  His slider and curveball still have to be refined, but he has a projectable major league arsenal.

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Before the news broke, it was possible that Thorpe could have reached the majors by 2017. Now he’ll have to wait at least a year longer before getting his chance.  With the potential to be a future number two pitcher in the Minnesota rotation, the Twins are going to have to treat the young left-hander with kid gloves upon his return. If healthy, Thorpe could help form a solid trio for Minnesota at the top of the rotation behind Kohl Stewart and Jose Berrios in 2018.  For now, however, his recovery will have to be his greatest focus.