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August 2, 2007 August 2, 2007

Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.

Knotts and Hoorelbeke Win Awards: The Atlantic League announced today that ex-Bears P Gary Knotts and Bluefish INF Jesse Hoorelbeke have won the Pitcher of the Month and Player of the Month awards, respectively.

Van Hekken Likely To Leave, Wiggins Coming: According to Patriots director of player procurement Brett Jodie, the team is likely to lose Andy Van Hekken to Taiwan after his start tonight, with Jodie saying he’s 95 percent sure that he’s leaving.

To replace him, the team will sign former big league P Scott Wiggins. Wiggins has big league time with the Toronto Blue Jays, pitching in three games during the 2002 season.

He also has experience in the Yankees system, and has played with Jodie.

Good Team Getting Better: According to a source, a South Division team may be on the verge of signing a player who will provide versatility and power off their bench. Stay tuned…

Thorp Feature: In today’s Democrat, you can find this feature on Somerset P Paul Thorp. Hopefully, everyone understands the point I’m trying to make…

For Paul Thorp, two sets of numbers have always defined his career.

What should matter to teams are his statistics, and those have always been good.

But what does matter to teams is his weight, and that’s always been a point of contention for the Somerset Patriots reliever.

Thorp is listed at six feet tall and 200 pounds, but the latter number is a bit on the low side.

For a pitcher who was 0-1 with one save and a 2.40 ERA in 15 appearances at Double-A Trenton this season, that must be the only logical explanation to his release.

“I was shocked,” Thorp said.

“Going in that day, all the pitchers knew something had to happen. When they called me in, I knew it was bad news. I was really surprised they decided to release me instead of send me down again.”

When pressed about whether conditioning issues played a part in his release, as was rumored to be the case, the Dallas, Tx. native didn’t hesitate to address the issue.

“I’ve always been a heavier player throughout my career,” he said.

“The Yankees want everybody to look good in those pinstripes. I think at some point, it became more of an issue how I looked in my uniform compared to how I did on the field.”

Thorp was drafted out of Baylor University in the 31st round by the Yankees in 2002, but made just one appearance that season before requiring Tommy John surgery.

He came back the following season and spent the next three years in the Yankees organization, advancing as high as Double-A. Although his career was highlighted by making the Florida State League All-Star team in 2005, the game just wasn’t fun anymore.

Now that he’s out of affiliated baseball, that seems to have changed,

“I’m having fun playing baseball again, and that’s a big thing,” he said.

“With the Yankees, you have to deal with a lot of political stuff. Here, if you pitch well, you’re going to pitch. If you don’t, then you’re not. I’m happy here, I’m having a great time.”

Thorp, who entered the 2007 season with a career ERA of just 2.70, has been a stabilizing force for a Somerset bullpen that’s been shaky for the entire season.

Entering the team’s three-game series at home against Bridgeport, Thorp was 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA in 17 games for the Patriots.

“I’m a little surprised that I haven’t gotten any calls from any other teams,” Thorp said.

“But I was released at an awkward time, it was right after the draft and the All-Star break, so everybody’s full right now. There hasn’t been a whole lot of movement. But I’m happy here.”

The 26-year-old righty throws a fastball, slider and changeup, and possesses good command of all three pitches. That repertoire has always made him someone who’s suited for the late innings.

Although he’s served as a closer in the past, having racked up 67 saves in the Yankees organization, Thorp has served as a middle reliever in Somerset.

While he prefers to come into the game in the final frames, he’s been helping the team as someone that manager Sparky Lyle can be comfortable going to in the sixth and seventh innings.

“As long as I’m getting innings, it doesn’t really matter,” Thorp said.

“Here, I’ve been a middle guy so far. (Hector) Almonte’s been the set-up guy, and R.D. (Spiehs) has been closing, so I’ve been the seventh inning guy. And that’s fine, it’s late in the game, so there’s a lot pressure, which I thrive on.”

So, with as well as he’s been doing this season, another question remains.

Will Paul Thorp get picked up before the year is over?

You’ll just have to “weight” and see. – Mike Ashmore



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