I'd guess it is fair to assume that the name of Lewis Thorpe snuck up on most Twins fans. The lefty from Australia signed with the Minnesota Twins as a 16-year-old in July of 2012. Most talked about Amaurys Minier, the Twins top international signing that year at $1.5 million, but in 2013, Thorpe made his US and GCL debut and put together a fantastic season. With the GCL Twins, he went 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP. In 44 innings, he walked just six and struck out 66.
He won't turn 18 until the end of November, and yet it's been reported that he already is able to touch 95 mph with a fastball. That's going to get you noticed, and recognized, as he was when Baseball America named him the #7 prospect in the Gulf Coast League.
Twins Daily was able to ask him a few questions recently and he was gracious enough to respond. Get to know a little bit more about Lewis Thorpe below, and feel free to ask questions and discuss in the comments. (Note I'll be back tomorrow to continue the Top 50 prospect series with prospects 16-20.)
Twins Daily: As an amateur, how much contact did you have with MLB teams and what was it that caused you to decide to sign with the Twins?
Lewis Thorpe: At about 15 is when all the scouts started chatting to me. The Twins have a lot of Australians, and I wanted to feel comfortable, and I did.
TD: What was the adjustment like for you last spring moving from Australia to Florida? What were the biggest challenges?
LT: The biggest challenges were the weather change and humidity. That was tough, as was getting homesick a couple times.
TD: You had a successful first professional season with the GCL Twins. What were your keys to your success?
LT: My keys were cutting down the walks. If I had a bad outing, I had 1 or 2 walks, if I had a good outing, 0 walks. Location was a big thing.
TD: What pitches do you throw? What is your best pitch, and what is the pitch that you really want to improve?
LT: Fastball, Curveball, Change up and Slider. Really need to improve on curveball and slider. Need more control with those 2 pitches.
TD: After the GCL season, you were impressive while representing Australia in an international tournament. What's it like to pitch for your country?
LT: (Itís the) best feeling pitching for your country, listening to the National Anthem when you line up before the game, knowing everyone back home is supporting and cheering for you to succeed.
TD: Away from baseball, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
LT: Round of 18 holes on the links, movies, putt-putt and fishing.
TD: Are there certain areas of your game or preparation that you'd like to focus on during this offseason, looking to 2014?
LT: I really need to work on the curveball and slider. I think if I get those two pitches going, it will help me a lot. Getting fitter to make sure I don't get lazy and get out of bed and work on something every day.
TD: Growing up, who were some of your role models in the game of baseball?
LT: My role model was Mark Ellis. If it wasn't for him and his son, Mitch Ellis, I wouldn't be where I am today. They told me to come and try baseball which I did really enjoy and haven't stopped playing since that day at age 6. When I started growing up and knowing the game, Graeme Lloyd was a big role model too. Hearing his stories of how he got to the big leagues really touched me.
TD: What are some of your goals for the 2014 season? Are there certain statistics that you focus on?
LT: Certain goals are to cut down the walks again this year, to be more consistent with the slider and curveball, and hopefully end up in Low A. That will be awesome.
TD: What would it mean to you and your family to be able to reach the major leagues and put that uniform on for the first time?
LT: It would mean the world to my family and I. They have done so much for me already like driving me places, putting food on the table, putting a roof over my head. I just have to make sure I don't stop working hard and hopefully one day my dream will come true.
TD: What was the highlight of your 2013 season, your first year in the Twins organization?
LT: It was probably making the Baseball America Top 20 in GCL prospects list, or probably going to instructional ball. That was really good, helped me learn a lot!
Thank you very much to Twins minor league pitcher Lewis Thorpe for taking time to answer our questions. Feel free to discuss below.