Blake Whitney – Picture by Todd Johnson
It’s been a while since we’ve done any kind of prospect profile or update. But now that the season started, you are going to see a lot more. To begin, one of the most pleasant surprises of this year has been the performance of Blake Whitney at AA Tennessee. Whether he’s gone just a couple innings or stretched out as a piggyback starter, he’s been dominant in his first three outings.
Ht: 6′ 3″
From: Sharpsburg, GA
24th Round, 2018 South Carolina-Upstate
I last profiled Whitney over at Cubs Central in 2020. Since then, the pandemic never allowed play to resume after that article and last year was just a strange year as Whitney was more of an organizational pitcher than anything else. He was lights out with Myrtle Beach the first six weeks of the year as he had a 1.98 ERA in seven appearances.
He was then promoted to South Bend where he was used in a variety of roles including a start that he made over in the Quad Cities. He had a whacky stat line. While he did have a 10.05 ERA for South Bend, most of that damage came in two of his appearances against the River Bandits. In total, he gave up 9 runs in just those 2.0 IP. It was not pretty.
However, in spite of that high ERA at South Bend, he was missing bats, lots of them. He put up a 15.07 K/9 which was one of the best in the system. His walk rate was low at 1.29 BBs/9, but he gave up 3.14 HRs/9 too. As well, hitters had a bit of luck with him hitting .429 of balls in play. Then again, missing bats.
This year, however, it looks like Whitney has a home in Double-A. It is right where he belongs with a role that he seems to be thriving in as a reliever.
The keys to his success so far are pretty simple. He puts his fastball where he wants it in the low 90s and then he proceeds to pound the zone with sliders and the occasional curve. If a pitcher can move the ball around and locate what he is throwing, that pitcher is going to have a lot of success. Case in point, Whitney in 2022.
In watching him attack lefties, the curve looks to be the more effective pitch for him.
It also helps Whitney is on a staff that has some guys that get up in the upper 90s and then he comes in throwing 90 to 91 most of the time, sometimes topping out at 93. That’s a huge difference and then he drops in a slider at 82 to 83 miles an hour and you get a lot of guys chasing some pitches and looking really ugly doing it.
As long as he just keeps doing this, good things should happen.