The 26-year-old Thorpe appeared in 54 games with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats this season, posting a record of 3-1 with 18 saves. The 6-4, 250lb. right-hander, posted an ERA of 2.91 over 55.1 innings with 62 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .167 batting average.
Entering 2006 Thorpe posted a 17-31 career minor league record with an ERA of 4.76. The Melbourne, Florida native was an 11th round selection by the Blue Jays in the 2000 First Year Player Draft, and is considered to be one of those late bloomers in professional baseball.
The turnaround for Thorpe came after coming back from labrum surgery early in his career. After his surgery he focused on his command and as a result the outcome began to turn into his favor. Thorpe possesses a fastball that has been clocked as high as 98 MPH, but averages out between 93-95 MPH. He also throws a power slider in the 84-89 MPH range.
"He's a hard thrower, but for Tracy the only concern is his ability to throw strikes,” said one scout who has been watching Thorpe in Arizona. “That's all he has to worry about. He has a blazing fastball, but he has to locate it consistently."
“The stuff is definitely there. That’s not even an issue.”
After a shaky first half in Arizona this fall, Thorpe rebounded to become one of the most dominating relievers. He didn’t allow a run over his final seven outings, and even more impressive was the fact that he allowed just one hit and one walk during that span. Over those same 7 1/3 innings he recorded 12 strikeouts.
“He can be very dominating against right-handed batters when he can locate his stuff,” said one Arizona based scout.
Thorpe, who was eligible for free agency if he wasn’t placed on the 40-man roster, will fight for a roster spot in spring training with Toronto, but is expected to begin the 2007 season with the Syracuse SkyChiefs.
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.
2007 Outlook: Thorpe will begin the 2006 season with Syracuse, and could be making a case for himself to the coaches in Toronto during spring training.
ETA: If Thorpe can work on his flaws and remain healthy, he’s looking at an ETA of around 2007.