Prospect Report: Craig Whitaker

Drafted in 2003 in the first round as a supplemental pick, Craig Whitaker began his professional career fresh out of high school. Whitaker, listed by Baseball America as the fifth best prepster in the 2003 amateur round, has already made a huge impact.

Ranked as one of the top ten Giants prospects, Whitaker has been literally blowing away batters down at short season Salem-Keizer, the Giants' Single-A affiliate. After picking up his first win of the season on July 5, he was named North Western League's player of the week. Whitaker gave up only one hit and threw six shutout innings. He then followed that up with another solid start, giving up only one run and striking out nine in five innings.

YEAR TEAM W L ERA GS IP H R HR ER SO BB
2004 S-K 2 2 4.11 11 50.1 41 28 4 23 59 29

Scouting Report: Whitaker throws a fastball that averages around 92-94 mph, but it's been clocked as high as 96 mph. And he still has room to grow. Tall and lanky, Whitaker has a "projectable frame." A few more years and a few more pounds, his fastball could consistently reach the upper 90s. Whitaker also features a nasty, snapping curveball and a changeup.

Concerns: Last year, Whitaker experienced some elbow pain which kept him sidelined during rookie ball. Otherwise, he appears to be fairly injury-free. Mechanicswise, he seems to have a smooth arm delivery.

Whitaker is slightly erratic. He is ranked second in strikeouts in his league, but he's also ranked third in walks. Striking batters out takes a lot of pitches, and he often wastes a lot too. As time passes though, he should be able to have better control and make better use of all his pitches.

Predictions: Whitaker is still a baby and in the infancy of his development, but it's hard not to get excited about this young prospect. He will probably finish this season at Salem-Keizer and them move up to Single-A San Jose next year. Unless he makes a phenomenal leap in his development, don't expect him to be in the majors anytime before 2007. At best, he could be a September call-up in 2006, but even that is generous. In time, Whitaker should develop into a top line pitcher, and it won't be long until we see him in the bigs.



Michelle Lo, also known as the Armchair Manager, writes recaps and other miscellaneous articles and designs some of the graphics at SFDugout.com. She can be reached by email at aznstarlite00@yahoo.com

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