Whittleman shines in Futures Game

Clinton third baseman Johnny Whittleman made use of his two at-bats in Sunday's Futures Game, hitting a home run and drawing a walk. Lone Star Dugout talked with Whittleman about his experience at All-Star Weekend.

Third baseman John Whittleman had been just 1-for-20 in the month of July, but it was hard to tell from the way he swung the bat during Sunday's MLB Futures Game at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

The power-hitting prospect made use of both his plate appearances, going 1-for-1 with a home run and a walk.

Whittleman worked the count full before hitting the round-tripper, an impressive shot to right-center field.

"The first pitch was a changeup for a strike," said Whittleman. "Then he threw a curveball over my head, so I figured he wasn't going to come back with that again. Then he threw a fastball down for a ball and a changeup for a ball. After that he blew a 94 MPH fastball by me. He went back to his changeup again and left it up. I got enough of it to get it out."

With the game being televised nationally on ESPN2 and a crowd in excess of 40,000, it was the biggest stage Whittleman had ever played on.

The Kingwood, Texas, native says he was nervous, but excited as well.

"I was definitely nervous," he said, "but the nervousness was more of an excitement because I wanted to do well. I think I definitely used it to my advantage. I was nervous until I got that first inning out of the way."

Whittleman was also honored to be playing with other top prospects, including some friends from the past.

"My locker was next to Justin Upton and my buddy Jay Bruce, who I played against in high school, was across the way from me," said Whittleman. "Joba Chamberlain, who I played with in winterball, was there as well as Cameron Maybin. All those great prospects were in there."

Aside from being able to play with so many promising young players, the third baseman was also able to rub elbows with some of baseball's all-time greats.

"I got the chance to warm up and play catch with Ozzie Smith before the game," he said. "I didn't get to meet any of the All-Stars that are playing tonight, but I was able to meet some of the Hall of Fame guys. I was able to play under my manager, Dave Winfield. He's a great guy and I was able to pick his brain a little bit. It was just a lot of fun."

Whittleman believes being able to have success in the Futures Game will help his confidence for the rest of the season.

"I think you really rank yourself as a player when you play in a game like that," said Whittleman. "And when you have success in it, it just boosts your confidence that much more."

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