Name: Garrett Whitley
Height/Weight: 6’1’’, 195
Garrett Whitley is one of the most talked about players in this year’s draft. I had him first in my last mock draft and many think he is a likely top-10 pick.
It feels like every year there is one upstate New York prospect that scouts have to go see. Last year it was Scott Blewett, who the Kansas City Royals drafted in the second round. Next year there is another pitcher who is already generating talk. This year, though, it has been all Whitley.
He is a 6’1”, 195-pound outfielder. Whitley should profile to stick in centerfield thanks to his speed which grades out as plus. He has the potential to be a five-tool player with power from the right side. As I mentioned before, the rarest commodity in baseball right now is right-handed power. If everything hits then you’re looking at a monster player: a future all-star, a cornerstone type of talent. Yet not everyone is so sure that will happen.
A lot of scouts have made their way up there and the reports I have read have been more negative than positive. Whitley is really the only guy these scouts can see, so when they make the trek and if he doesn’t show anything then the scouts feel like they made a trip for nothing, as there is no one else there generating a lot of heat.
Whitley had a really good summer, which put him on the draft map. The issue is he has plainly struggled this year. The numbers are way down from his junior year. Last time I got a report he was barely hitting over 300 and was yet to have an extra base hit. People have been down on Rodgers for merely being good and not destroying other teams. When it comes to Whitley he frankly hasn’t even been that good this year.
The positives are fairly obvious. He could be a centerfielder who hits for power and he has a good eye at the plate, so he should be able to walk often which would help his on-base percentage. His legs and arm could make him a top-10 defender in center. He is set in centerfield. I don’t think anyone thinks he will have to move off the position. As a cold weather guy, there is also more growth potential in him as is typical.
Now for the negatives. I touched on it before but he has not played anywhere near as well as what a kid with his talent should do against the talent level of the state. He is facing a lot of guys who throw 70 to 80 MPH. He is not in Georgia routinely facing guys who hit 90. One has to wonder, is he hurt? Or is Whitley just pressing too hard under all of the pressure. Either way it is not something that is going to help his value. Some think his hit tool, at best, will be a 40 grade tool based on what they saw in-person. His eye can help that but it’s a concern that 40 is an at best case to more than some.
I want to do things a little differently for the comparison section this week. I am going to do a high- and low-end comparison since Whitley is a guy who the people I talk with are so divided on. The low end comparison is now Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane. Coming out of high school, Beane was a 6’4’’, 195-pound outfielder who was all-tools and minimal performance. He made it to the majors basically because of speed and defense but never put anything together. Beane was a high pick with power potential who struggled under the pressure of the game.
The upside comparison is a right-handed Grady Sizemore. Sizemore was a pure athlete drafted out of Washington who developed. Sizemore was also a cold weather player from a non-traditional baseball state. He developed a very good eye in the majors and his walk rate was always a strong part of his on-base percentage. Sizemore was a guy with plus power and speed who turned into one of the best players in the league. Whitley is a similar size and quality of athlete. This is why despite the risks, he is going in the top-20 picks.
Whitley is a guy you need to have complete faith in your scouts to draft. This season has raised some concerns for me because his production is beyond disappointing. If your scouts are sure that coaches can fix what has gone wrong, the potential could net you a middle-of-the-order bat in centerfield. The problem is Whitley also is the odds on favorite to be the top-20 draft selection that is most likely to never see Double-A. No player is more boom or bust in this year’s draft.