Scouting Yankees Prospect #49: Chase Whitley

Whitley is more than ready for the big leagues

The Yankees drafted right-handed pitcher Chase Whitley in the 15th round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of Troy University. All the former college hitter has done is put up solid season after solid season and he's done it now at the game's highest minor league level for two consecutive years, putting him on the short list of potential big league reliever options should the need arise in 2014.

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

He followed up his 3.09 combined ERA between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton a year ago with a 3.06 ERA in Triple-A Scranton this season, proving to be the model of consistency.

"I think it was pretty good as far as improving from last year to this year," Whitley said. "The second year in Triple-A I feel like I improved in areas that I wanted to improve in.

"Really the only part of the season that hurt me was when I got hurt early on and obviously I can't control that, but for the most part I was pleased with how it turned out, especially late in the season."

A pulled oblique forced him to miss the first seven weeks of the season and he had an adjustment period to shake off the rust upon his return, posting a 5.40 ERA in his first 13 appearances, but he finished the year strong with a 1.69 ERA in his final 16 appearances.

"Fastball command, put hitters away, just throwing the ball where I wanted better, attacking hitters the way I hadn't in the past, making pitches when I had to -- I was very happy with how that was," he said. "In the past I would give in to hitters just to get a strike across and I didn't do that as much this year."

Known for his devastating changeup, a big reason why lefties hit just .193 against him this year, Whitley, who had struggled with a slider in previous years, made some steps forward in that regard in 2013.

"I didn't get beat on a slider for the most part all season. We kind of changed it up and made it into a cutter where I was throwing it a little bit harder.

"It was very effective for the most part all season. I was three pitches where I wanted to, especially late in the season, and guys were not putting good swings on them. I think it was pretty good."

Finally have his arsenal exactly where he wants it and with all of the solid numbers to back him up, and putting up two straight good seasons at Triple-A, it would seem he is quite big league ready.

"I would say so," he admitted. "I don't know what else there is to prove but at the same time it's out of my hands. I feel like I've done the job I was supposed to do.

"I've pitched in three or four different situations as far as I've started, closed, middle innings -- I feel like I've done every job you can do and I feel like I've done well when called upon. Whenever they say pitch, I've pitched, and I feel I've done that well."

His versatility as a starter or a reliever could be a welcomed addition to the big league pitching staff and seeing the success fellow Yankee farmhands Preston Claiborne and Adam Warren have had at the big league level only fills him with even more confidence that he can have similar success going forward.

"I think so, yeah. I've got to do some things better to create that opportunity but I think I can do it.

"It will all play out the way it's supposed to. I'm thrilled to death these guys have had success, it's good for the rest of us because it's lets people know we can do it," he concluded.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2013

Scranton

3-2

3

67.2

61

21

62

3.06

2012

Scranton

9-5

1

80.1

61

25

66

3.25

2012

Trenton

0-0

1

4.0

1

2

7

0.00

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, Cutter.

Fastball. Whitely was predominantly sitting in the 90-93 mph range with both his sinking two-seamer and his four-seam fastball in previous seasons but he saw a velocity bump in 2013, sitting mostly in the 93-94 mph range. He has impeccable command of his four-seamer on the outer-half to right-handed batters and has the great sinking fade into righties with his two-seamer, making it tough for any batter to really look for a fastball in any one particular quadrant.

Other Pitches. Whitley's bread and butter is his plus-plus changeup in the 83-85 mph range, a pitch that is not only great at inducing double-plays but one that also is his predominant strikeout pitch. He'll throw it to both righties and lefties, and it has great sink and fade. He rounds out his repertoire with a relatively new cutter, a pitch that allows him to pound the outer-half of the plate to righties with something other than his four-seam fastball. It is at its best when it sits in the 86-88 mph range because it generates more late movement and it can serve as a solid swing-and-miss pitch.

Pitching: Now armed with three big league pitches, Whitley has the complete arsenal to give batters different speeds in different areas of the plate and, an innate strike-thrower, one who is constantly ahead in counts, batters just have a hard time barreling the baseball on him. He is also adept at keeping his pitches in the lower-half of the strike zone and he keeps the ball in the ball park [he gave up just three home runs in 2013]. A former position player, he is quite athletic for a pitcher and fields his position well.

Projection. He doesn't throw 98 mph and he won't exactly pile up the strikeouts, but what he does is excel at consistently putting batters down by inducing harmless contact, pitching efficiently, and never letting batters get comfortable. He doesn't pile up big pitch counts either because of his great strike throwing ability and that allows him to not only pitch multiple innings at a time but save his arm over the course of a long season. He is best suited as a middle reliever with his ability to induce potential double-play balls but he could also give the bullpen some length if called upon and he can even spot-start if need be. His consistency, versatility, and effectiveness against lefties are huge attributes.

ETA. 2014. Whitley was big league ready entering the 2013 season and he is more than ready right now. Still not on the 40-man roster, however, and therefore at risk in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, should he remain in the Yankee organization going forward he should get his chance in the Bronx sometime next season.

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