Scouting Report: RHP Paul Thorp

Thorp Projects To Be A Setup Man

The New York Yankees selected RHP Paul Thorp in the 31st round of the 2002 draft out of Baylor University. Thorp, despite being a little old for the levels he has pitched in over the last two seasons, is one of the unsung heroes among the Yankees' minor leaguers, notching 58 saves in his career thus far. Here's a scouting report on Paul Thorp.

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Vital Statistics:
Name: Paul Thorp
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: September 23, 1980
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 200
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Paul Thorp served as the setup man for the Bearcats at Baylor University. He finished his collegiate career with an 8-4 record with 5 saves and a solid 4.06 ERA in his three seasons before being drafted by the Yankees in the 31st round of the 2002 MLB Draft.

"It is privilege and exciting," Thorp told PinstripesPlus.com about being a part of the Yankees' organization. "You just never know what's going to happen. It is just amazing being a part of the greatest organization in sports."

Thorp made his professional debut with the Staten Island Yankees in the NY-Penn League back in 2002 and repeated the same level in 2003 after pitching in just one game for Staten Island in his first season. Since his debut, all Thorp has done is rack up 58 saves while posting an admirable 3.10 ERA in his 128 games in a Yankees' uniform, doing all that has been asked of him since taking the mound as a professional.

After totaling 26 saves with the Battle Creek Yankees in 2004, Thorp looked unhittable in the first half of his 2005 season with the Tampa Yankees, opening the season with a 2.11 ERA in his first 22 appearances before a second-half swoon saw him post a 5.67 ERA in his final 28 games with Tampa. Not one to make up excuses, Thorp chalked up his late season struggles as a learning lesson.

"I just wasn't making quality pitches for a about a month or so and it really hurt me," Thorp told us in a recent interview. "I was healthy the whole year, but it was just a snowball effect. My confidence was getting worse with each bad outing. The mental part of the game is a big, big part of it too. I think it was mostly my focus and pitch recognition. I just left too many pitches up in the zone."

Paul Thorp, while not garnering the attention of a "top" prospect, is one of many solid relief pitching prospects in the Yankees' organization that simply can not be overlooked as a future contributor to the Major League level someday. "My goal each season is to make my years better from year to year," Thorp told us. "I'd like to keep getting more saves and just keep throwing well."

He realizes he needs to keep plugging away and putting up the solid numbers in order to open some eyes with the Yankees. If he continues to replicate the same success he's had thus far in his three minor league seasons, Thorp will do exactly that.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2005

Trenton

0-0

1

3.0

1

0

1

0.00

2005

Tampa

2-4

25

48.1

43

12

38

4.10

2004

Battle Creek

2-4

26

64.1

61

14

65

3.08

2003

Staten Island

1-2

6

36.1

29

9

23

1.98

2002

Staten Island

0-1

0

5.0

8

3

1

3.60



Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Changeup.

Fastball. Thorp uses his fastball to set up his secondary pitches. He has excellent command of his fastball, using pinpoint control to hit his spots to help set up his changeup. His fastball sits in the 89-91 MPH, topping off at 93 MPH. Thorp, unlike most closers, doesn't have the dominating fastball to overpower hitters. His fastball is his go to pitch, not his out pitch. Other Pitches. Thorp has a developing slider that he throws in the 78-82 MPH range. It is more of a setup pitch to prevent batters from leaning out over the plate. He compliments his fastball and slider with a plus changeup, a pitch that he throws in the 83-84 MPH range. Thorp's changeup is his best pitch, and it is a pitch that serves as his out pitch. He can throw his changeup in any count and in any situation, with great control.

Pitching. Thorp, not your prototypical closer, is a backwards closer that relies on his secondary pitches to get batters out after setting them up with fastballs. His control is impeccable. Over the span of his three plus minor league seasons, Thorp has walked just a shade over two batters per nine innings, a number that would put him among some of the best at the minor league level. Thorp goes right after batters and forces them to swing at his breaking pitches to put the ball in play, usually leading to harmless groundout or potential double-play ball.

Projection. While he has served as his teams' closers since being drafted, Paul Thorp projects to be a solid setup guy at the Major League level someday. He just doesn't have the dominating fastball to blow away Major League batters in a closing situation. However, with his control (career 1.15 WHIP ratio) and backwards approach on the mound, he could be an ideal setup man someday. His changeup, followed by an overpowering fastball from the closer, would give opponents fits due to the extreme difference. Think Aaron Heilman of the Mets from the 2005 season for a good MLB comparison.

ETA. 2008. Thorp has been a guy to take one level at a time from year to year, and there's nothing to point to that would dispute that trend from continuing in the future. Despite his uncharacteristically bad finish to his 2005 season with Tampa, look for Thorp to see significant time with the AA-Trenton Thunder in 2006. That would put him on a pace to reach the Major Leagues by 2008, when he'll be 27-years old. He's not a top prospect because of his advanced at the minor league level, but that doesn't mean he can't have a promising Major League career. His control is too good not to make it in some capacity.

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