It’s a running joke among prospect nerds that “the Yankees have a tree down in Tampa, that they shake, and some guy who throws 95 falls out.” Well, in the 18th round of the 2017 draft they shook that (palm?) tree, and a tall righthander out of UAB named Garrett Whitlock tumbled into the Yanks hands. A draft eligible Sophomore due to an early birthday, Whitlock is an interesting story, and a lesson that often in the MLB draft later round guys can be more than their draft pick number. In other words, don’t let the 18th round tag fool you, he had some pedigree. In the summer of 2016, a strong performance for Chatham in the Cape Cod League, planted Whitlock onto the draft radar. Many believed he was a day two pick when rounds three through ten are conducted. Unfortunately for Whitlock, and fortunate for the Yankees, a back injury hampered his season, and his stock dropped. The Yankees stepped up, paid him above slot, and all he’s done since is make everybody look smart. According to the numbers and the scouting reports from people like Jason Woodell, he might just be the Yankees best kept secret. Here’s a look from Jason, and after we’ll discuss why I’m buying all over.
68 seconds of Garrett Whitlock abusing hitters
FB 93-94 T 95 with sink
Deceptive delivery. Commands the zone. Changes eye level, pounds both sides of the plate. As a prospect, SP3, should stick in rotation. Ahead of Abreu, Medina, Freicer Perez #Yankees pic.twitter.com/4PMXF1OCn4
— Jason Woodell (@JasonAtTheGame) June 23, 2018
A sturdy 6’5, with a lean, but strong frame, Whitlock brings a lot to the table that can project out long term. His fastball sits 93-94, hitting 95, the pitch features nice sink and run, working low in the zone consistantly. He mixes in an above average changeup in the mid-80’s, and a pitch he calls “his breaking ball”, but doesn’t believe it’s a true curve or slider. He does a good job of mixing two elements that will make him successful if he continues on this trajectory; he gets swinging strikes, and generates lots of groundballs. So far in 2018 Whitlock has nine or more swinging strikes in ten of his thirteen starts. He’s also induced eight or more groundballs in six of those thirteen starts, showing a good balance between power pitcher and pitchability righthander. I’m in the midst of working on my Top 100+ right now and Whitlock will certainly be somewhere in the 75-125 range. You will all have to wait and see what I decide on…(Big Market Tease). The deeper the dynasty league, the more aggressive I would be to add him. He went six strong last night, striking out five, allowing two earned, on four hits, and three walks.
We’ve focused on the good with Whitlock now let’s discuss some of the red flags. First, he’s had back injuries in the past, and while many can be managed, back injuries by and large, come and go. Second his delivery is somewhat high effort, though he does repeat his mechanics well, and is consistent on his plant foot. Additionally, he has a low arm slot, and you can see he puts a lot of strain on his shoulder and elbow with his motion. The good news is I can’t predict injuries, because I’m an idiot that writes at a fantasy blog and not a doctor. The other good news, all of this works for Whitlock! His numbers on the season are stellar, through fourteen starts he’s 5-3, with a 1.54 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, .202 BAA, and 86 strikeouts to 18 walks over 76 innings beyween both levels of A ball.
- I’m working on the aforementioned Top 100+ ranks, so I’m going to keep this brief. But good god does Bobby Bradley make it hard to quit him. I’ve dropped him down a bit, but really he’s no different than I thought he was. After a wretched April, Bradley has been a middle of the order masher since May 1st going .242/.338/.543 with 14 homers. The average is always going to stink but 30+ homers, and a value bump in OBP and OPS formats make him a worthwhile buy in dynasty leagues. Then again, take this with a grain of salt, it’s coming from a noted fan. He has a huge lefty swing, that’s surprisingly compact, though it can be a little stiff, despite his explosiveness.
- The Angels Brandon Marsh was called up to High-A Inland Empire with Jo Adell, but he struggled for much of his first month there. Over his last ten games however he’s begun to heat up. Slashing .333/.415/.639 over that time with a couple of homers. My love for athletic 20 year old has never waned, and he’ll be ranked highly in my update.
— Jared Tims (@Jared_Tims) June 17, 2018
- I’m not a huge fan of advocating you pickup catchers in dynasty leagues. That said, the Dodgers Will Smith is one catcher that I’m looking to get my hands on. The power he flashed in the Cal league last year hasn’t disappeared at AA Tulsa, it’s actually improved. His batting average is a very acceptable .269 at the moment, and more reflective of who he is than last season’s .232. Getting on base has always been a strength for Smith, and he’s maintained his career 11.5% walk rate this season. The key to Smith’s value is his skills behind the the dish. A strong defensive catcher with a plus arm, Smith has split time between third base and backstop this season, as he platoons with Keibert Ruiz.
@Dodgers prospect @will_smith30 roped a home run to left field that got out of the park in a hurry! The Drillers remain in pennant race with the 5-2 victory over the @nwanaturals, game four of the series Saturday night at 7:05.#Dodgers #Baseball #DrillVille #WillSmith #HomeRun pic.twitter.com/4veyGmvIF5
— Tulsa Drillers (@TulsaDrillers) June 16, 2018
- There’s quote a few lower minor hitters catching my eye, but none have sparked my imagination quite like Giants 19 year old outfield prospect Diego Rincones. Through 13 Northwest League contests, Rincones is hitting .444/.436/.704 with three homers, five doubles, no walks of course, but just 5 strikeouts. I’m interested to see if he walks more as he settles in, or gets promoted. At the moment short season pitching is overmatched.
- While Francisco Mejia beats out Kyle Tucker for AAA player of the month for June, the Twins Brent Rooker takes the AA title. He finishes June .312/.393/.645 with a AA leading 16 extra base hits on the month. He also walked 12 times, more than April and May combined (10). There’s always going to be peaks and valleys with Rooker, but he’s got a big league future, and skills like power that make you pay attention in fantasy.
- Some notable teenage hitters from the Gulf Coast League: the Mets Ronny Mauricio (.366/.333/.561), the Astros Freudis Nova (.294/.294/.500), the Yankees Antonio Cabello (.444/.516/.889), Jordan Groshans (.455/.556/.864), the Marlins Walner Espinal (.467/.514/.600), and the Blue Jays Leonard Jimenez (.308/.438/.423).
On Twitter as @ProspectJesus