Drew Thorpe competed as a two-way player during the fall season of his freshman year in 2019. He was an impactful shortstop and right-handed pitcher during his senior high school season in Utah, but Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee quickly realized Thorpe’s future was on the mound.
Focusing exclusively on pitching has paid off for Thorpe. He showed glimpses of his potential during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season before serving as Cal Poly’s ace the last two years.
Thorpe has thrived as Cal Poly’s top starter, showing steady improvements each year. His pitch mix and potential intrigue professional scouts, causing him to garner interest in anticipation of July’s MLB draft. Scouts project the right-hander as a potential first or second-round pick in the draft.
“It is exciting,” Thorpe said. “I never really thought I would be in the position I am now. I’m focusing on college, getting through this season and playing well. I will worry about the draft when it comes. But it is really rewarding and pretty exciting.”
Thorpe has made notable strides throughout his tenure at Cal Poly. After posting a 3.21 ERA in four starts in 2020, Thorpe recorded a 3.79 ERA with 104 strikeouts and 38 walks allowed in 90 1/3 innings last season.
He has shown notable growth from last season, recording a 2.73 ERA with 127 strikeouts and 21 walks allowed in 90 2/3 innings in 13 starts this spring.
“I am a lot different player than three years ago,” Thorpe said. “I have developed a lot here because I was more of a two-way guy who didn’t know what he would do. Now, I have pitched a lot of innings for the program. It has been a great fit for me.”
Thorpe is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-handed pitcher who uses a short arm action to throw a four-seam fastball, changeup, and slider from a high three-quarters arm slot and repeatable delivery. He isn’t an overpowering pitcher, but commands his three pitches well and fills up the strike zone.
Thorpe’s fastball is a quality pitch that sits in the low-90s and touches 96 mph. The pitch features some movement and could experience an uptick in velocity as he continues to mature physically.
His changeup is his best pitch. It is an above-average offering that scouts believe might be one of the best changeups in this year’s draft class. He uses a four-seam grip and throws his changeup in the low-80s. It has depth and fading action to generate strikeouts and weak contact.
Thorpe mixes in his slider, but he typically relies heavily on his quality fastball, slider combination.
Scouts rave about his consistency and projectability. They also like his clean delivery and ability to attack the strike zone.
“I just go at hitters,” Thorpe said. “I won’t overpower anybody with my stuff. So I just think it’s my mental side and ability to attack hitters that help me have success.”
Thorpe is a significant reason for Cal Poly’s success this season, boasting an 8-1 record in his first 13 starts.
Cal Poly has a 32-20 record with two weeks left in the regular season. The Mustangs rank second in the Big West, sitting behind UC Santa Barbara, and have one of college baseball’s top players in shortstop Brooks Lee.
The Mustangs hope to qualify for their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2014.
“We just need to keep having fun and see where we can get and how many games we can rattle off here,” Thorpe said.
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.