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2017 IBI Top 75 Prospects: #63 Matt Whitehouse

The 2017 prospect countdown continues with a left-handed arm who is older and who has battled injuries the last few years, but a big return to the mound in 2016 has the Indians intrigued at his possibilities in 2017 and beyond...

63. Matt Whitehouse – Left-handed Pitcher

Born: 04/13/1991 – Height: 6’1” – Weight: 175 – Bats: Left – Throws: Left

Facts & Info: Whitehouse was drafted by the Indians in the 19th round of the 2013 Draft out of UC-Irvine. He did not pitch his junior year in college in 2012 as he had to take a medical redshirt due to a shoulder injury, so he was drafted as a redshirt junior in 2013.

Stuff: Whitehouse missed almost all of the 2014 and 2015 seasons recovering from arm surgery, but made significant strides in his full-time return to the mound last season and saw a dramatic improvement with his stuff from the left side. When he first came into the organization he had a below average 85-88 MPH fastball that touched 90 MPH, but in his return from surgery last season he was consistently at 88-92 MPH and was even up to 93-95 MPH on occasion. The Indians believe that the rehab on the arm to build it up and strengthen it along with a conversion to a relief role helped his velocity spike up. He really commands his fastball well and is very aggressive with it in the zone. He shows a good feel to spin his slider which continues to improve and has the potential to be an average offering, and he mixes in a developing changeup which could also become an average offering for him.

Delivery & Intangibles: Whitehouse is average sized with a solid delivery that he repeats well because of some athleticism and a high aptitude for making adjustments. He throws from a three-quarter arm slot and shows good direction to the plate. He is a strike thrower who focuses on first pitch strikes and has a strong feel for pitching with really good control of his entire arsenal. He is a competitor on the mound who does a nice job of handling adversity and working through tough situations. He is a hard worker, has an open mindset and listens to instruction well.

Focus: Durability issues have long plagued Whitehouse both in college and in his minor league career. Over the last five seasons, the only season that he has been able to pitch a full season and not have impacted by injury was his draft year in 2013 which he split between college and Mahoning Valley. In 2012, he suffered a knee injury that he pushed through but in compensating for the knee he ended up developing some tendonitis in his rotator cuff which washed out almost his entire season in college (3 G, 13.0 IP). After a very good pro debut at Short-A Mahoning Valley in 2013 and solid start at Low-A Lake County, he suffered an arm injury in June 2014 that he initially tried to rehab in Arizona for several months but ended up tearing the UCL in his left elbow and opted for Tommy John surgery in September 2014. The Indians feel that if he can stay on the field that he will get the necessary innings he needs to develop his pitches, pitch sequencing and mental approach to stay ahead of hitters and know how to attack them. They would also like to see an uptick in his ability to consistently command his fastball to the bottom of the zone and locate his pitches to both sides of the plate.

Future: Whitehouse came back very strong last season after a near two-year absence from the mound because of Tommy John surgery that limited him to just 13 games and 34.1 total innings in 2014 and 2015 combined. Last season he was lights out with Low-A Lake County before finishing the season with High-A Lynchburg and a brief one inning appearance with Triple-A Columbus, and really opened some eyes along the way with the spike in the overall quality of his stuff. With his much improved velocity he is a left-handed pen arm to keep an eye on and has put himself on the periphery of the Major League radar – though he still has a ways to go. The Indians were happy to see him return to form and make some big strides last season as they could tell he was hurting and he was trying to compete in 2014 and 2015, and they believe he could be even better this year because it usually takes about a year for a pitcher to really get back into things post-Tommy John. He should get an opportunity to move on to Double-A Akron at the start of the season, though may initially open at High-A Lynchburg because of all the pitching depth in the upper levels of the system. Either way, he is expected to get a meaningful amount of time at Double-A this season, and may even get an opportunity to start.

Ranking History: #73 (2014)

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