Scouting Jays Prospect #33: Tracy Thorpe

The Toronto Blue Jays selected Tracy Thorpe in the 11th Round of the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft out of Melbourne High School, in Melbourne, Florida. After spending three seasons playing for Charleston, Thorpe was given a promotion to Dunedin to begin the 2004 season, and had his best season as a professional. This past season the hard-throwing right-hander made great strides on the mound. Here is the final 2005 scouting report on right-hander Tracy Thorpe. FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT

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Vital Statistics:
Name: Tracy Thorpe
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: December 15, 1980
Height: 6'4
Weight: 250
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Thorpe was drafted out of high school in 2000 and many focused on his size and arm immediately. The Florida native is an intimidating factor on the mount and has a hard fastball to compliment his presence.

Thorpe was not faced with immediate success as he entered professional baseball, struggling during his first two seasons, and the subsequent year he tore his labrum late in the season, and as a result missed out on most of the 2003 season. Upon returning, Thorpe was sent to pitch out of the bullpen, and began to show his real talent during the 2004 season with Dunedin. His main flaw was that he allowed a high percentage of walks, something that has followed him throughout his minor league career. In 324 minor league innings entering 2005, Thorpe had allowed 4.19 walks per-nine-innings pitched, however, his best control season was in 2002 – right before he got hurt.

"Sometimes you need to take a little off on your pitches, to make sure you throw strikes and pitch inside the zone," Thorpe said. "The key is learning how to be successful without throwing as hard as you can."

Thorpe allowed 2.65 walks per-nine innings in his thirty-four innings with Dunedin, but that ratio rose to 4.13 in his thirty-seven innings with New Hampshire.

The sixth year pitcher was not disappointed that he began the 2005 season with Dunedin, and deep down he expected that would occur.

"You always know if you will repeat a level, and I wasn't shocked when I found out I would be starting in Dunedin," said the right-hander. "But the organization told me if I was consistent and had a good year I would be promoted, and I was."

Thorpe has worked hard on his secondary pitches to compliment his blazing fastball, and over the past three seasons he has made much progress, despite battling injuries. He has gone from a one-pitch pitcher, to having multiple pitches he can count on for success. Thorpe features a overpowering two-seam fastball, as well as a slider and changeup. The right-hander wants to work on his slider a little, and tighten it up more to get it to be an effective pitch to strike batters out.

"When I get it going it's a good pitch for me," said Thorpe. "However, sometimes I leave it over the middle of the plate and I get it trouble."

Although Thorpe can throw his slider up to 89 MPH, he normally works around the 84-87 MPH range, so he can locate it better.

Thorpe continued to struggle a little with his command during the 2005 season and that is an issue he knows he must continue to work on and improve if he wants the organization to take him seriously. Thorpe walked nearly four batters per nine innings during his thirty-seven innings at Double-A this past season, a ratio that is too high for any pitcher. Opponents batted just .233 off Thorpe during his tenure in the Eastern League and it shows us he will be effective if he can keep his pitches in the zone.

Earlier in the 2005 season Thorpe changed his deliver and dropped his arm angle down to three-quarters. Thorpe said the new delivery works for him.

"I was over the top with my arm angle in Dunedin, so we changed it and dropped it down a little," Thorpe said. "I have to be more around the plate with my pitches, and throw quality pitches. The hitters are better at this stage in baseball and the strike zone is getting a little tighter."

The 25-year-old also regrets the amount of home runs he gave up when he went to New Hampshire. Thorpe allowed nine home runs in thirty-seven innings at the Double-A level, and he realizes that is an aspect of his game he needs to work on.

"I did give up my fair share of home runs at the Double-A level and it was the first time in my career I had that problem," the right-hander said.

Thorpe also excels in the other aspects of pitching. Base runners stole just one time off Thorpe during the 2005 season and the former three sport athlete is quick off the mound and able to field his position.

"I hold runners well," said Thorpe. "I vary my times to the plate and know I to be in an athletic position to possibly field a ball."

"I just want the fans to know I am a hard nose guy that will give it my all. I would never play less than 100 percent, and no matter the situation I want to win. I am all about winning and if I ever play in Toronto, they will see that up close."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

H

BB

K

ERA

2000

Medicine Hat

0-4

26.1

28

17

15

8.54

2001

Charleston

4-13

102.2

108

51

81

5.08

2002

Charleston

5-7

103.1

96

31

70

4.18

2003

Charleston

1-2

32.1

37

22

21

6.68

2004

Dunedin

3-2

59.1

39

30

53

3.64

2005

Dunedin

2-1

34.1

32

10

33

3.67

2005

New Hampshire

2-2

37.0

30

17

36

3.89



Repertoire: Fastball, slider, changeup, splitter

Fastball: Thorpe features a mid-90s fastball that he is still trying to regain after battling through the arm injuries. It appears that Thorpe has regained his velocity, and maintaining that velocity be the main ingredient for his success. Thorpe usually pitches in the 93-95 MPH range, but has been known to reach 96-98 MPH at times. Thorpe did hit 98 on the gun several times during his stint with Dunedin, but began taking 1-2 MPH off his fastball when he reached Double-A, in order to work within the smaller strike zone.

Other Pitches: Thorpe also features a slider, changeup and a splitter. He tried to put the splitter in his repertoire but it was not working for him for some time. Recently the pitch began being a little more effective, however, not to the level that he can consistently rely on it. Thorpe believes he will have an effective splitter if he continues working on it. The right-hander is also looking to sharpen his slider a little and be able to locate effectively.

Projection: Thorpe's future is clearly in the bullpen. He does not have the extensive repertoire needed to be a starter and many scouts question his ability to throw hard after six and seven innings of work. Taking into account his injury history, the best bet for success will be in the pen. Thorpe prefers to be a starter but his main concern is reaching the major leagues and is willing to remain in the pen if that is his fastest route to the majors.

2006 Outlook: Thorpe will likely begin the 2005 season with New Hampshire, however, his focus should be on finishing the year with Syracuse and at Triple-A.

ETA: If Thorpe can work on his flaws and remain healthy, he would be looking at an ETA of around 2007.

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