Padres manager Mike Shildt hypes up trade acquisition’s ‘Bugs Bunny’ changeup

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San Diego Padres manager Mike Shildt speaks to media
San Diego Padres manager Mike Shildt speaks to media / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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If you're not old enough to remember the classic Warner Brothers cartoon when Bugs Bunny took on the Gas-House Gorillas all by himself, you've surely seen the GIF floating around on social media where the Wascally Wabbit strikes out three batters with one pitch, right? If you're still scratching your head, type Bugs Bunny changeup into Google.

During the cartoon, Bugs Bunny perplexed the entire Gorillas' lineup with his "slow ball." The beloved cartoon character threw a single pitch that would make Kyle Hendricks look like Nolan Ryan. In typical Looney Tunes fashion, Bugs Bunny was able to induce three swinging strikeouts by all three batters with just one pitch.

That has led analysts and pundits to use the term "Bugs Bunny changeup" when describing an un-hittable off-speed pitch. According to San Diego Padres manager Mike Shidlt, that's exactly the type of pitch that Drew Thorpe possesses.

Padres manager Mike Shildt hypes up Drew Thorpe's ‘Bugs Bunny’ changeup

The Padres acquired Thorpe as part of the offseason deal that saw Juan Soto and Trent Grisham shipped to the Bronx. The Friars, not seeing a path forward in contract extension talks with Soto, decided to part ways with the All-Star outfielder earlier this winter. In return, the New York Yankees sent four pitchers and veteran catcher Kyle Higashioka to San Diego.

While Michael King was the headliner and is expected to be part of the Padres Opening Day rotation, don't be surprised if Thorpe is actually the best player to emerge from that deal. Shildt talked up all five of the Padres' acquisitions during an interview with MLB Network.

Thorpe ranks among the Top 100 prospects in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. Though he doesn't own an explosive heater, Thorpe's changeup is considered one of the best in the minor leagues. Thorpe owes many of his 183 punchouts to his off-speed pitch. Thorpe struck out over 35% of the batters he faced in 2023.

Thorpe made it to Double-A last season, and but we don't know how the Padres will deploy the former second-round pick once camp breaks next month. Don't look for Thorpe to be part of the Padres Opening Day roster, though a midseason call-up could definitely be on the docket for the 23-year-old hurler.

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