Rangers Prospect #11: John Whittleman

Though 20-year-old John Whittleman struggled in his first full season last summer, many believe that the third baseman has the tools to become an outstanding hitter. Rangers Insider takes a look at the young prospect.

Vital Statistics:
Name: John Whittleman
Position: Third Baseman
DOB: February 11, 1987
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

Coming out of Kingwood High School in Houston, John Whittleman was regarded as the best pure hitter in the state of Texas. The infielder's offensive skills enticed the Rangers to take him with their second round pick in the 2005 amateur draft.

Scouts lauded Whittleman for his raw power, bat speed, ability to hit to all fields, and discipline at the plate. The third baseman displayed many of those qualities with the Rookie League Arizona Rangers in 2005, as he hit .279 with 12 doubles, eight triples, and 35 RBI in just 51 games. Whittleman amassed an impressive .393 on base percentage, as he drew 35 walks in his professional debut.

The Rangers felt that Whittleman was advanced enough to handle Single-A Clinton – a full season level – in his first full year in the organization. However, Whittleman struggled both at the plate and in the field for much of the season.

Whittleman, who was playing in his first full season at third base, hit .227 with 21 doubles and nine home runs with the Clinton LumberKings. One of the positives from the 20-year-old's season was his patience. Whittleman finished 11th in the Midwest League with 60 walks on the season.

The third baseman joined fellow prospects John Mayberry, Emerson Frostad, and Jose Vallejo with the West Oahu CaneFires of Hawaii Winter Baseball over the offseason. Though Whittleman hit just .189 with four home runs in 95 at bats, scouts remained impressed with his raw power and bat speed.

Batting and Power: Many have compared Whittleman to Hank Blalock at the plate. In the Minor Leagues, Blalock had raw power, a discriminating eye, and the ability to spray the ball to all fields. However, Blalock was much more advanced than Whittleman. Though he has not put up the numbers, Whittleman has the ability to become an outstanding prospect with the bat.

Base Running and Speed: Whittleman is not particularly speedy, but he has shown the ability to utilize it well on the basepaths. The Houston native stole 11 bases in 15 attempts while legging out eight triples in 2005. He had three triples and seven steals with Clinton in 2006.

Defense: At this point, Whittleman is well below average defensively, but he should improve with time. Whittleman played his first full season at the hot corner last year and committed 34 errors. He also struggled in Hawaii, as he piled up 12 errors in 24 games. Arm strength is certainly not a problem for the third baseman, as that is currently one of his primary strengths.

Projection: There is no safe projection for Whittleman as of right now. If he reaches his ceiling, Whittleman is a potential .300 AVG/15-20 HR guy in the Major Leagues. However, as a 20-year-old in Single-A ball, that seems to be in the relatively distant future.

2007 Outlook: Whittleman should repeat the 2007 season at Single-A Clinton. At 20 years of age, Whittleman would still be one of the youngest players on the LumberKings roster. With an impressive showing early in the season, the Rangers might consider a promotion to High-A Bakersfield.

ETA: 2011.

2005 AZL Rangers (RK) .279 190 12 0 35 31 11 35 42 .393 .426
2006 Clinton (A) .227 466 21 9 43 56 7 60 97 .313 .343

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