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Rays Top 50 Prospects: No. 6, Garrett Whitley

Cleveland Indians v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Garret Whitley, the next guy on our list, worked hard all winter to gather steam towards a successful 2018 only to see it be derailed by an unfortunate shoulder injury.

No.6, OF Garrett Alan Whitley, 21 years old

Born: March 13th, 1997 in Melrose, MA

Height/Weight: 6’1” 195 lbs Bats/Throws: R/R

Signed: by the Rays after taking him in the first round of the 2015 draft for $2,959,600

Twitter handle: @RealGWhit

Twitter profile statement: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Baseball America Rankings

  • Ranked as the 5th best Rays prospect post-2015
  • Ranked as the 7th best GCL prospect post-2015
  • Ranked as the 10th best Rays prospect post-2016
  • Ranked as the 18th best NYP League prospect post-2016
  • Ranked as the 9th best Rays prospect post-2017
  • Ranked as the 18th best Midwest League prospect post-2017

DRB Writers ranking

  • High: 6th
  • Low: 11th

Garrett Whitley: Abilities

  • Developing power
  • Speed
  • Five tool potential
  • Above-average arm strength

Grades for ‘18 (Pipeline): Hit: 50 | Pwr: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Fld: 60 | Overall: 50

  • Abilities notes: Whitley has improved throughout his minors career thus far but may have taken the largest step forward this winter while playing in the Australian Baseball League. He credited that experience for giving him a few months’ worth of progress before 2018 began.

Joined the Rays by way of...

The draft, where the Rays selected him 13th overall, in a draft that now includes three prospects struggling to stay healthy (Chris Betts was taken in 2nd round, and Brandon Koch in the 4th round). Despite this, the Rays still have Joe McCarthy (5th round, Triple-A), Brandon Lowe (3rd round, Double-A), Jake Cronenworth (7th round, Double-A), Ian Gibaut (11th round, Triple-A), and Brett Sullivan (17th round, Double-A) set to help in the near future, an indication that it can still be considered a successful draft year.

Latest Transaction: assigned to Charlotte from Bowling Green April 2nd, 2018.

For those unaware, Whitley suffered a torn labrum, had surgery, and will be sitting out the entire 2018 season.

Facts, Honors, and Awards

“He showed polish (last season) in his plate approach, on the bases and in the field. If he can iron out his contact issues as he progresses, he has star potential.”

“To be the only one left is sort of strange,” he said. “The friends I came over with aren’t here anymore which wasn’t expected, but I have 25 new friends I’m playing with.”

  • Overall, Whitley hit .265/.384/.503 with 9 doubles, 2 triples, 8 HR, and 3 stolen bases while playing in the ABL, but did note he was mostly working through some mechanical issues during his time there.
  • Was blessed with opportunity to interview Garrett before the season began, and wrote an article going through some details on his ABL experience here.

Stats

Garrett Whitley 2017

GP 104
GP 104
PA 426
AB 358
Hits 89
Doubles 18
Triples 4
Home Runs 13
RBI 61
SB (CS) 21 (4)
AVG 0.249
OBP 0.362
SLG 0.430
OPS 0.792
BB% 13.4 %
SO% 28.6 %
ISO 0.182
BAbip 0.339
wOBA 0.364
wRC+ 127

Stats Notes: Showed improvement as the season wore on, hitting .248/.329/.376 in the first half and improving that to .249/.381/.465 in the second half. That was joined with 3 HR/9 SB in the first half and 10 HR/12 SB in the second half.

Interesting Comparison: Aaron Hicks

Hicks may be a switch-hitter, but he’s about the same size as Whitley and can also man either CF or LF effectively. And, he also happened to have played the Low-A level at the same age (20) as Whitley, which helps this comparison out.

In 2010 while still in the Minnesota system and also at the LoA level, Hicks managed 423 AB (65 more than Whitley in 2017) and managed the following as compared to Whitley,

  • Hicks ‘10: .279 / .401 / .428 with 27 DB, 6 TR, 8 HR, 21 SB (11 CS), .149 ISO, .384 wOBA, 134 wRC+
  • Whitley ‘17: .249 / .362 / .430 with 18 DB, 4 TR, 13 HR, 21 SB (4 CS), .182 ISO, .364 wOBA, 127 wRC+

Aside from contact (in Hicks’ favour) and power (in Whitley’s favour), these stats are very similar. With Whitley having spent time in the ABL thereafter to work on some of his skills, there’s a good chance he’s made up some ground on the contact side of things.

Obviously 2018 will be a wash, but it still took a while for Hicks to solidify his place in MLB, so it’l be interesting to see how they compared when Whitley returns to the field.

Notes for 2018 and beyond

It’s not what we expected or wanted. That Whitley is forced to go through this season on the sidelines is a tough situation for him, no doubt about that, but there’s also no doubt he’ll do everything he can to get himself back on the field healthy and producing in 2019.

We wish him all the best in his recovery and look forward to his return.

On that note, when he does return, a lot will have changed. Not only will the highly-ranked OF team mates he was playing with in 2017 (Jesus Sanchez and Josh Lowe) have taken a step forward through a complete season in High-A, but they’ll likely begin the 2019 season in Double-A while he’ll likely head to High-A, joining some BG or HV graduates and/or 2018 draftees.

The competition Garrett will face is going to be steep as a result and he’s going to be forced to push himself to show well enough to earn promotions through Triple-A. How that all shakes out is hard to say, and a lot will depend on how healthy and strong that shoulder returns, and how significant the things he learned in 2017 — both in the Midwest League and in the Australian Baseball League — were.

What we do know is that Garrett already has four-tool talent and that if he works as hard as we’d expect, he’ll make competition very tough on others. With a power and speed combination of tools that few others can compete with in the system, he’ll be armed and ready to go.

Look for the Rays to possibly take it slow with him initially when he returns but to possibly get more aggressive with his promotions thereafter if his performance at the plate improves enough.

Garrett Whitley: Spotlight Videos

Recap and links of previously listed DRB Top 55 Rays Prospects

*Note: rankings were adjusted and reflect recent additions to the system - it is now a Top 55 list