Despite moving up the minor leagues in a hurry, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees right-handed reliever…
Whitley Learning The Ropes
In the month of May, the right-hander allowed eight runs over 15 and a third innings pitched. His earned run average climbed throughout the month, partly because he walked seven more batters than he did in April.
"I think it's just sometimes I am trying to work the edges of the plate a little bit too much and getting myself into some bad counts," Whitley stated. "I am trying to work through that, just staying aggressive in the zone and pitch to contact early in the count and then expand."
Although the box score shows that he allowed more runs and walks over a greater number of innings pitched in May than April, it also shows Whitley striking out a batter nearly every inning while holding opponents to a .211 batting average as compared to a .231.
A major reason behind this has been Whitley's ability to throw his slider more consistently than in his previous outings earlier in the season.
"I have been able to throw it for strikes which has been a big improvement from last year," he said.
Last season, the 15th round selection in the 2010 Draft out of Troy University, could not rely on his slider in key situations of the game but that has started to change this year.
"It's been good, still always developing, but it's getting there," Whitley added.
Besides his improvements to his slider, Whitley's fastball has also made strides throughout the year. Catcher Francisco Cervelli has been impressed with Whitley's demeanor on the mound and his work ethic.
"He seems to turn it on but will keep doing better and better," Cervelli said. "He's got to keep working on his fastball control and I think he is doing a very good job, so he will be fine."
Whitley knows consistency is key in order for him to take the next step but he is only focusing on one outing at a time for now.
"Right now I am trying to get ahead of the hitters, that is the number one thing and not trying to think too much and just get a head of the hitters, and make sure everything is focused," Whitley said.
"My mental game is the main part. I feel like physically it's where I need to be, I believe, but mentally just make sure everything is focused at all and try to achieve."
Besides his time on the mound Whitley has enjoyed his time bonding with the more experienced players. Luckily for him so far he has not had to do any outrageous rookie customs that you see in the majors to win over his teammates.
"It's been good, the guys have really accepted me well, I believe, but I have enjoyed the process of getting to know (them) and pick the brains of a lot of guys who are very accomplished in their careers."
Triple-A is new territory for Whitley but his impact on the diamond has already been felt with his team high five wins. His meteoric rise from single-A to Triple-A in a two-year period has been nothing short of extraordinary for this young pitcher. Whitley's desire to improve and achieve should only help him as summer approaches.
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