Chase Whitley, a 6-foot4, 220-pound pitcher for Tampa, was drafted in the 15th round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of Troy University by the Yankees as a third basemen and a relief pitcher. Scouts saw more potential in him as a pitcher and with one year in the books, his main focus is to be an effective pitcher.
"I'm definitely happy with the switch to a relief pitcher and I believe everything has been going great so far," Whitley said. "Being a relief pitcher is the closest thing to being hitter, you come to the field every day thinking you have a shot to get into the game."
In Spring Training, Whitley and Tampa pitching coach Jeff Ware worked on becoming more consistent and developing his slider, making it more sharp and keeping it down in the zone.
Ware knows that Whitley is a tall pitcher which led to mainly working on keeping him to finish more over his front side and getting more extension after his release point.
This season, Whitley is currently sporting a 2.08 ERA with two saves and 20 strikeouts in 21.2 innings pitched, and walking just two batters. The pitcher is happy with his results so far this season.
"I feel good out there. I'm learning how to repeat my delivery and spotting my pitches down in the zone. I like the role I play on this team and have found success for the most part this year," he said.
Whitley, who has been known to carry a plus-changeup in his arsenal of pitches, also carries a two and four-seam fastball along with his slider. His fastball is at average MLB speed, sitting at the 90ph range. Ware sees a promising future for Whitley especially with his deadly changeup.
"His change is probably his best pitch. He has great arm speed and a good bottom to it which gets a lot of swing and misses," Ware stated.
As Whitley carries a two and four-seam fastball, he uses those pitches to get effective ground balls which at the end of the day causes problems for opposing hitters.
"He is a two-seam four-seam type guy," said Ware. "[Chase] gets a lot of ground balls and when he knows how to pitch down in the zone and continues to get ground balls while throwing three pitches for strikes, he has a good chance to move up to the next level."
When Whitley steps on the bump for Tampa, catcher Kyle Higashioka has had a fun time catching his teammate throughout the season and has seen good life on all of his pitches.
"What I've noticed most about [Chase] is that he has good command on all four of his pitches. His fastball has good life on it and his slider that he's been working on is really starting to become sharp," Higashioka said.
"When I catch a pitcher, I notice when one has great command," Higashioka said when asked about Whitley's command. "This season [Chase] seems to be working hard on his command and it has been getting periodically better throughout the season."
As the Ranburne, AL native continues his 2011 campaign; Whitley knows what he has to do to stay an effective relief pitcher this season.
"Like I said, staying consistent down in the zone and developing my slider to be an out-pitch are some important tools to have success," Whitley said. "I'm having fun out there which at the end of the day is very important."
Whitley Continues To Be Effective
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