Continuing The Times-Tribune’s annual countdown of the top 15 Yankees prospects. I rank 20 prospects, Donnie Collins ranks 20 prospects, and then we average them together. The list takes into account ETA for the big leagues. You’re going to find some guys who might not have ceilings as high as others, but who instead could be in a position to help the Yankees sooner. Since they’re so new to pro baseball, 2018 draftees are not included on the list.
A big righty with good stuff, Garrett Whitlock is looking like he could be another late-round pick college guy that the Yankees are able to get the best out of. A 1.86 ERA in your first full pro season is a pretty good way to debut.
Position: Starting pitcher
Acquired: In the 18th round of the 2017 draft out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
SWB ETA: 2020
Whitlock began the year at Low-A Charleston and dominated in seven starts. He had a 1.13 ERA and a .750 WHIP in 40 innings, with 44 strikeouts against just seven walks. The Yankees bumped him up to High-A Tampa, where he went 5-3 with a 2.44 ERA. In 70 innings with the Tarpons, he struck out 74 and walked 27. Whitlock pitched two games with Double-A Trenton to finish off the year and allowed one earned run in 10.2 innings, though he struck out just four and walked seven. His 1.86 overall ERA was second best in the Yankees farm system (Mike King, 1.79).
Here’s some video of Whitlock:
RHP Garrett Whitlock has a deep pitch arsenal. His 1.86 ERA (120.2IP, 25ER) was the second-lowest among all Yankees farmhands in 2018. pic.twitter.com/nogNjp1sjo
— NYYPlayerDev (@NYYPlayerDev) March 11, 2019
Below, Donnie and I discuss why Whitlock lands at No. 13 on the list, what’s good about him and what might need work.
CF: So, remember how I said I thought this was a big Prove It year for a lot of people in the Yankees farm system? Here’s one of them. Whitlock shined in his first full pro season with a 1.86 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning. The Yankees Player Development Twitter account put out a video of Whitlock the other day, and the stuff is pretty darn impressive. Everything has late movement and, at least just going off that video, it all looks the same coming out of his hand. Could be another good late-round pick college find by New York.
DC: I’m not sure how a guy like this slips to the later rounds. I get that the Yankees have worked with him on a four-seamer, and that has really changed the kind of pitcher he was coming out of college. But he has really good stuff, and he’s another one of those guys the Yankees seem to love. Lots of groundballs and strikeouts.
CF: The Yankees sort of have a knack for getting the best out of these college guys, especially when it comes to fastballs. It’ll be interesting to see what he does this season. Baseball America has him as the No. 18 prospect in the organization. MLB Pipeline, No. 16. Fangraphs, No. 27. River Ave, No. 18. You can’t put up a 1.86 ERA with stuff that looks pretty good and decent peripherals and still be ranked that low-ish on prospect lists. If he puts up another season like that, he could really shoot up the ranks. Especially since he’s also 6-foot-5.
DC: Totally agree. I think he’s thoroughly underrated. If I have one knock on him, it’s that he kind of short-arms the ball. But over the years, I’ve stopped looking at that as an injury risk and more as a deception tool. Have you seen his breaking ball yet? I guess it’s a slider, but it breaks sharp and deep. He gets a lot of swings and misses on that pitch. Talk about somebody who can help soon, he’s in that category to me. He’ll move quick because he looks so polished to me.
CF: The breaking ball is pretty wild. He seems to control it well, too. That video from the Player Development team is just knee-buckler after knee-buckler, which tells me hitters really have a tough time picking it up out of his hand. As for the short arm stuff … Mike King has a turn in his delivery and throws completely across his body from an extreme side of the rubber. Deivi Garcia is pretty tiny, but strikes out the world. Luis Severino once upon a time didn’t use his lower half. Domingo Germán does … other things that are weird. I think the Yankees are thoroughly of the belief that they don’t care how you do it, so long as you get it done.
DC: That probably falls into a “today’s game” thing like we were talking about the other day. Something like that would have been a big talking point, and it isn’t now. The only real serious question about him with me is, can Whitlock do it again? I’ve seen nothing that indicates he can’t.
15: Phillip Diehl
14: Stephen Tarpley
13: Garrett Whitlock
7: March 24
6: March 25
5: March 26
4: March 27
3: March 28
2: March 29
1: March 30
Photo: New York Yankees