Thorp's Confidence Was Shaky In The Second Half
Tampa reliever Paul Thorp sits down with PinstripesPlus.com for a Q&A session to talk about his hot and cold season in 2005, to tell us about his repertoire, where he thinks he'll be playing in 2006, which of his Tampa teammates impressed him the most, and a whole lot more.
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PinstripesPlus.com: You had a dominating first half of the season this year, but really struggled the second half. What was the reason for the dramatic fall? Were you injured?
Paul Thorp: I think it was mostly my focus and pitch recognition. I just left too many pitches up in the zone. I just wasn't making quality pitches for a about a month or so and it really hurt me. 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.
PinstripesPlus: The Tampa squad, despite being an early season favorite to contend for the Florida State League title, really struggled this year. What was it like playing on a team that struggled like that?
Thorp: The atmosphere was fine. We all got along. But for some reason, we just couldn't get it all together. I mean, we had some injuries. Some of the guys expected to do well, like Andrus and others, had down years, myself included. I don't know what our problem was this year.
PinstripesPlus: Tell us about your repertoire. What kind of pitches do you throw, at what speeds, etc?
Thorp: I throw mainly a fastball, slider, and a changeup. My fastball is around 91 MPH, my slider is 78-82 MPH, and my changeup is 83-84 MPH. I like to locate my fastball and use my changeup as my out pitch. My changeup is definitely my best offspeed pitch. I might tinker with something [another pitch] in Spring Training. I don't know if they [the Yankees] think I need another pitch or not. But working with Nardi Contreras has been great. He has helped me a lot and that has been in just one year. Nardi really enjoys helping to develop the minor league guys.
PinstripesPlus: Do you have any goals for next season? Do you have any idea of where you'll be starting the year?
Thorp: I don't know where I'm going to start, but my goal is to be a mainstay in AA, maybe even possibly move up from there. My goal each season is to make my years better from year to year. I'd like to keep getting more saves and just keep throwing well.
PinstripesPlus: What does it mean to you to be a part of the Yankees' organization?
Thorp: It is privilege and exciting. You just never know what's going to happen. It is just amazing being a part of the greatest organization in sports. Sometimes it is tough because maybe we don't get chances at the Majors like some guys in other organizations do, but this year was different with Cano, Wang, and Henn. I know all of those guys and it was really exciting to see them go up. It was just great to see them [the Yankees] give the younger guys a chance to play.
PinstripesPlus: Which of your Tampa teammates, among the positional players, impressed you the most? Who do you think has the talent to be a solid Major League player?
Thorp: Tommy Rojas is a guy that was pretty consistent for us all year long. He was great in the beginning of the season as our backup catcher. He just kept coming up with the big hits we needed and he was hitting .300 for a while this year.
PinstripesPlus: Which if your Tampa teammates on the pitching staff was the most impressive and has the highest upside in your opinion?
Thorp: Tyler Clippard. Everyone knows what he does and what he is capable of doing, so even though he did great, to many of us it wasn't that impressive because it is almost expected. I think he's got a real shot [at making the Major Leagues] if he stays healthy. He just finds a way to get it done even when he doesn't have his best stuff on the mound.
PinstripesPlus: What would say about the people out there that underrate him because he doesn't have the blazing fastball?
Thorp: He can't really listen to all that. He just throws it on the back burner [in his mind] and keeps throwing up numbers. He's mentally strong enough to go with the flow.
PinstripesPlus: It just seems that people, namely other publications that remain nameless, don't think much of the Yankees' farm system while we tend to think it is awfully good. What do you think when people say the Yankees' farm system isn't very good?
Thorp: I don't know. I agree with you. We have a lot of talent at AA and high-A. Heck, even with the guys we have in Charleston, we have so many talented guys in our system. Maybe people will change their minds once guys move up.
PinstripesPlus: Give me the name of one Yankees' prospect, hitter or pitcher, that you think is going to be great but hasn't gotten the attention he deserves.
Thorp: Ramiro Pena. Our shortstop went down with an injury and he came over and filled in for us. He's 18 or 19 years old, and in the field, he's flawless. I can't even explain it. He played the rest of the year at AA. Some of his plays were just phenomenal. He's got the goods for sure. If they [the Yankees] don't rush him, in two to three years when he's a little older and a little stronger, you'll have yourself one hell of a ballplayer.
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