Scouting Yankees Prospect #34: Chase Whitley

Whitley has very good stuff across the board

The Yankees drafted Chase Whitley in the 15th round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of Troy University. An accomplished hitter in college, he was moved to the bullpen by the Yankees at the professional level and has now put two straight solid seasons together while also improving his overall stuff.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Chase Whitley
Position: Pitcher
DOB: June 14, 1989
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 220
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

"It went well," he said of his 2011 campaign. "I was really excited that I was able to move quickly through the system and get to Double-A. Hopefully that will continue but that's out of my hands. Overall I was really pleased with my season."

While he did not pitch quite as well at Double-A, it's hard not to be pleased with what was essentially his first full season pitching exclusively, going a combined 3-5 with seven saves a 2.47 ERA between high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton last season.

"When I got to Double-A I was trying to do too much and then I realized my stuff's good enough to get anyone out --- what I learned the most was getting strike one and being able to throw my offspeed stuff in fastball counts," he said.

"I was able to do that to righties and lefties, and not always have to go to just my changeup. I developed my slider and I was pleased with that. Overall, just getting strike one and not giving the hitters too much credit, that was big."

Possessing a big league fastball and changeup before the year began, it was the improvement of his slider over the course of the season that allowed him to become a more complete pitcher and not only receive a first-year invite to the coveted Arizona Fall League this offseason but pitch very well there too.

"I learned so much. I didn't realize how much I learned from Tommy Phelps and all of those guys at Double-A until I went out to [the] Arizona [Fall League]. I was able to take what I learned in Trenton and go out to Arizona and just pitch and not think so much. That was a big-time help."

With his entire game rapidly coming together, he was one of the better pitchers in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 1.62 ERA in twelve appearances with the Phoenix Desert Dogs.

"I am [pleased]. Towards the end I got tired in the Arizona Fall League. It wasn't as sharp as it had been all season," he said of the slider in particular.

"My arm was getting to that limit in November. Overall I was very pleased with the slider and being able to throw that pitch for a strike occasionally instead of just having in the bag and not using it."

He was able to throw his breaking ball nearly as much as his changeup and do so in true fastball counts, and that has made the biggest difference in his game. So while his strikeouts were down in 2011 in comparison to his debut season in Staten Island the year before, he believes he is now well equipped to put batters away more consistently going forward.

"Finishing hitters when I get ahead of them in the count; 0-2, 1-2, finish them off," he said of his goals for 2012. "I want to get my strikeout numbers – they were a little bit lower this past year than they were in Staten Island but I'd say that's expected because the hitters are better – when I'm 0-2, 1-2, there's no need to do too much to get that third [strike].

"That, with the changeup, I've got the pitches going in the directions that I need. I've got a pitch going down and in to righties, the fastball, and I've got a pitch going down and away to righties. Now the hitter's got three different angles [that] he needs to see the ball. That helps me out a lot."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2011

Trenton

3-4

1

42.2

46

19

37

3.38

2011

Tampa

0-1

6

48.1

41

10

40

1.68

2010

Tampa

0-0

0

3.0

1

0

6

3.00

2010

Staten Island

4-2

15

34.0

18

15

44

1.31



Repertoire. Fastball, Changeup, Slider.

Fastball. Whitely isn't overpowering necessarily with the fastball, sitting in the 89-92 mph range and topping out around 94 mph with his combination of four-seam and sinking two-seam fastballs. He is primarily a sinker-ball pitcher, however, and his two-seamer gets good diving action. He has surprisingly solid command of his fastballs too for a pitcher with so little experience on the mound.

Other Pitches. What has made Whitley such an immediate contributor on the mound is his plus changeup, a pitch that usually takes hurlers with more experience a lot longer to master. It isn't just a contact-out pitch either, it's a true swing-and-miss changeup to both righties and lefties. He entered the 2011 season with a decent slider that had a world of potential but it was lacking the overall consistency to be a true plus pitch. He made huge strides in that department last season, getting it up to the 82-85 mph range and throwing it a lot more often. It's not quite there yet from a plus big league offering standpoint, but it is a quality big league pitch with room to grow.

Pitching: Whitley might not have the overpowering fastball to blow it right by hitters but he has supreme confidence attacking batters with his two-seamer and now throwing two quality offspeed pitches in fastball counts to keep hitters off-balance. His higher walk total in Trenton last year is a bit of aberration -- he goes right after batters normally. A former third baseman, he is very athletic on the mound and fields his position well. What scouts and team officials really love, however, is his tremendous work ethic and attention to detail. He is the type of guy who continually and genuinely works at his craft.

Projection. The rapid development of his slider now gives him three big league pitches at his disposal and that's not a common trait for big league relievers. While the lack of a true overpowering fastball might keep him out of a potential setup type role at the big league level, with his ability to induce double-plays and pitch multiple innings, he projects best as a 7th inning type reliever. Keep in mind though that he is still relatively new to pitching -- 2011 was his first full year ever just pitching -- that it is quite possible that he could add a tick or two on the radar gun with his fastball and that could give him higher upside down the road.

ETA. 2013. Whitley ended the year in Double-A last season and he seems ticketed to start there in 2012. If his slider keeps developing like it has, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could be an in-house bullpen option for the big league squad the following year.

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