Yankees Prospect Profile: Chase Whitley

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Can this middle reliever break camp with the team this year?

Background

Chase Whitley could be the most underwhelming name in this series, but he also might be the only one with a real chance of making the 2014 Yankees. Drafted in the 15th round of the 2010 MLB Draft, Whitley made it all the way to Double-A by his second professional season. He utterly dominated Short Season right out of the gate (11.53 K/9) and ended up skipping Low-A entirely before his numbers leveled off a bit in High-A Tampa. He dealt with control issues when he made it to Trenton in 2011, but he was still able to make it to Triple-A by 2012. For his career, the 24-year-old Whitley has a 2.66 ERA with an 8.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. He has kept hitters to a 7.4 H/9 and 0.6 HR/9 with a total of 27 saves over his four professional seasons.

2013 Results

Whitley was in big league camp this past spring training, but he suffered an oblique injury that cost him the first month and a half of the minor league season. It also took him out of the running for a call up to the major league roster, which ultimately went to Preston Claiborne.

After his return in May, Whitley put up a solid season in Scranton, pitching 46.2 innings across 24 games in relief and compiling a 3.06 ERA and 3.05 FIP overall. He had his best strikeout rate (8.25) since 2010 and his best walk rate (2.79) since 2011. By the end of the season, the Yankees actually tried him out as a starter for five games, where he compiled a 1.61 ERA.

One odd thing about the right-hander is that he has shown a reverse split when it comes to lefties and righties. Usually, right-handed pitchers are better against right-handed hitters, but not Whitley. Over his four seasons in the minors, he has a .616 OPS against righties, but a noticeably lower .565 OPS against lefties. It will be interesting to see how this will play out in the majors, whether this is something that will continue, or if it's just a result of a comparatively smaller sample size.

2014 Outlook

Going into the Rule 5 Draft, I expected the organization to protect him from eligibility, however, they left him off the 40-man roster and it seemed like he was all but gone. The Yankees ended up losing Tommy Kahnle, Mickey O'Brien, and Ravel Santana, but Whitley was overlooked. He now has an invitation to spring training where he will compete with the likes of Mark Montgomery, Dellin Betances, and a plethora of minor league signings to make the team as a reliever. Even if he doesn't make the cut in April, Whitley could be one of the first up if someone needs to be replaced. While I expect Whitley to be a middle reliever, it will also be interesting to see if the Yankees will continue their experiment with him in the rotation.

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