Prospect Profile: Kevin Whelan

Kevin Whelan looked to have a bright future from the moment he joined the Tiger organization, and immediately impressed with his high-octane arm and his bulldog attitude. Will that help lead Whelan to be a future closer for the New York Yankees?

Kevin Whelan
Position: Right Handed Pitcher Height: 6-0 Weight: 200
Born: 1/8/1984 Bats: Right Throws: Right

Background
Whelan came to the Tigers as a 4th round draft choice in the 2005 amateur draft, out of Texas A&M University. He joined the Aggies as a catcher in 2003, but never really got it going behind the plate. After some struggles during his freshman, and early in his sophomore campaign, Whelan gave pitching a try because of his very strong arm. Kevin had some growing pains during his first season as a pitcher, but worked hard and improved his craft dramatically heading into his third season. After a sparkling display in the 2004 Cape Cod League, Whelan rejoined the Aggies, posting a 2.90 ERA and striking out nearly twelve batters per nine innings.

After signing with the Tigers for $265,000, Kevin went on an absolute tear, dominating both New York-Penn league and Midwest League hitters. The 2006 season was a bit rockier for Whelan, as he battled bouts of wildness and his relative inexperience came to light on occasion. Despite these struggles, Kevin posted impressive numbers, prompting his inclusion in the recently completed trade with the Yankees.

Scouting Report
Any discussions of Kevin's baseball ability should begin, and nearly end with one thing; his big-time arm. On the mound, he sits comfortably in the 92-94 range, touching 96 regularly in game situations. Despite being able to touch 96, it doesn't always benefit him in terms of making quality pitches. When he over-throws, he not only loses some control, but also loses some of his potentially devastating movement. When throwing free and loose, Kevin's ball has a bit of late explosion that rides in on right-handers, inducing a lot of soft liners and weak groundballs.

Offsetting his fastball, Whelan relies on two variations of a split-finger pitch. Both pitches have out potential, but lack consistency in both control and late bite. He'll need to develop at least one of these offerings to maintain his success at higher levels. Kevin is not a great athlete, and frequently struggles to repeat his mechanics. This problem could easily go away as he gains more experience on the mound, but until he does, he'll be at an elevated risk for injury. Due to his inexperience, he often struggles with some of the nuances of pitching. Things like setting up hitters, using his pitches wisely, fielding his position, and being in proper backup position still escape him, but he should improve them all with more innings on the hill. Overall, Whelan has the arm and talent to become an elite late inning reliever, but he still has some significant maturating to do.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

WHIP

A+

Lakeland

4-1

2.67

51

0

27

69

29

54.0

1.15


Health Record
With so few innings under his belt, Whelan's arm is still fresh and has been free of injury. He'll need to begin repeating his mechanics better to avoid future injury, but for now, his bill of health is clean.

The Future
Things have come up rosy for Whelan thus far in his professional career; dominating hitters throughout the New York-Penn, Midwest, and Florida State Leagues, to the tune of a 2.30 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and nearly 13 K/9 during his first two seasons. As a new member of a Yankee organization who couldn't find enough quality relievers in 2006, Whelan could see New York before the close of the 2007 season. There is no doubt he has the pure stuff to be an excellent set-up man or closer, but he must refine his overall package in order to reach his true ceiling. Expect Whelan to report to AA-Trenton in 2007, and he could see Yankee Stadium before the year is out.

You can contact Mark Anderson at mark@tigstown.com


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