Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50
While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing.
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Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.
The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next. Mikie Mahtook and Enny Romero have been graduated to the majors and will not be included in these rankings.
Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.
The next player to be examined in detail is …
#7: Garrett Alan Whitley, OF, 18 years old
- Bats: Right Ht/Wt: 6’0″ 200 lbs
- Drafted: in the 1st rd, 13th overall, of the 2015 MLB draft
- Signed: for $2,959,600
- 2015 Affiliate: Hudson Valley, A
- Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2019+
Whitley’s 2015 Splits
- Follow him on Twitter: @RealGWhit
- Hit Twitter handle states: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
- Was committed to Wake Forest before the draft
- BA had ranked him as the 7th best prospect in the draft, so the Rays got a “steal” when they selected him 13th overall
- Made the Northeast’s Area Code and East Coast Pro teams
- Runs a 6.5-6.7 time for the 60 yard dash
- As a Red Sox fan growing up, he looked up to Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz
- Now that he’s older, he’s a big fan of Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen
- Before being drafted by the Rays, he stated that this was his offseason program: “During the winter, I lift 4 days a week, run twice a week, and hit 5 days a week. For the spring, my goal is to just play hard, play loose, have fun, and see how everything plays out.”
- Ranked 5th on Baseball America’s Top 10 Rays Prospects list for 2016
- Maintained a decent BB/SO ratio with 21 BB to his 37 SO in 2015
- Will have to overhaul his approach vs LHP after managing a worrisome .108/.150/.108 in 40 PA against Southpaws in 2015
- Some believe that the only tool which doesn’t grade out as above-average is his arm
- Others not his arm as being above-average
Put this on Twitter after one of his best days of the 2015 season:
Best Tools & Abilities
- Above-Average Speed
- Impressive Bat Speed
- Power Projection
- Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55
It’s never easy being an organization’s first round selection. Expectations are always sky high, fans and evaluators often want immediate results, and the player likely places more pressure on himself than anyone else. In Whitley’s case, it wasn’t the pressure that seemed to do the most damage. Instead, it was and the increase of talent he was facing. In his own words:
"“In April, I was facing 78 (miles per hour). Here, everyone is throwing 90-plus,” “You are going against every high school or college’s No. 1 or 2 pitcher. There really aren’t many days when you are facing someone that isn’t really good.”"
Being young and fairly inexperienced since he came out of the North Eastern U.S., Whitley’s learning curve will be steep. However, in evaluating Whitley, the Rays had to be aware that this was going to be the case.
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It’s likely the reason they aggressively promoted him to Hudson Valley. That along with the fact that they wanted to get him out of the routine players face in the GCL as compared to playing day and night games at Hudson Valley.
Of all the first round picks in the 2015 draft, Whitley seemed to divide scouts most severely. Some scouts absolutely love him, others absolutely do not believe in his bat. Whereas I like to sit somewhere in the middle.
Looking through the positives of Whitley’s 2015 season, they include the fact that he never made a single error, that he managed a good OBP vs RHP at .339 overall, and that he seemed at his best when in tough situations.
When faced with RISP and 2 outs (38 PA), he hit .242/.342/.333 with 4 walks and only 8 strike outs. Finally, the fact that he was shortly exposed to A ball pitching and Hudson Valley environment should help him prepare for 2016 and allow him to take a big step forward.
While most scouts love Whitley and expect him to succeed moving forward, he caused some division among them in terms of whether or not he’ll hit in the majors. Some pointed to his 2015 inability to hit for average as an indication they were right. I certainly don’t agree and would never decide a player can or can’t hit based on such a small sample size.
It’s a fair enough assessment to not expect .300 and above in terms of average when he reaches the majors. However, with his tool set, it’s not a necessary part of his game. He may develop as more of a Grady Sizemore style CF, with both power and speed that play above the 20/20 level. In his case, he should be able to steal more bases than Sizemore did.
The million dollar question is whether or not Whitley will improve his hitting enough to reach his full potential. The tools are there, and the talent is evident. Should he hit well enough through the minors to reach his potential, the Rays could get one of the best outfielders in their existence. We’re talking 30 HR/40 SB potential with outstanding defensive abilities.
A more tempered expectation would be that Whitley will hit between .260 to .290 with above-average power numbers and more than 25 stolen bases per season. Regardless of the expectations, the best approach at this point is to allow Whitley to go through 2016 and reassess once the season’s through.
Whitley still has a lot to prove and a lot to learn as he moves through the minors. With the talent and abilities he has, the Rays will be as patient as needed to get the most out of him. A return to Hudson Valley seems likely at this point unless he tears the cover off the ball in spring, or he could see a combination of Bowling Green and Hudson Valley to get him more playing time.
The defensive talent is already present in Whitley and he remains one of the highest ceilinged players in the Rays system. Questions will remain part of his story until he gets a chance to prove people right or wrong. He is one of the most exciting prospects to look for in 2016, and he has everything he needs to meet and exceed expectations. We wish him all of the best moving forward and look forward seeing him burn up the base paths.