9. Garrett Whitley
Garrett Whitley was selected in the first round of the 2015 draft by the Rays with the 13th overall pick. He came into professional baseball with blazing speed as his top tool. He had superb range in the outfield and above-average power. He brought the kind of potential you would hope to see from a 13th overall draft pick.
Whitley signed with the Rays straight out of high school. He worked his way up to Bowling Green by 2017 at age 20. He slashed .249/.362/.430 with 18 doubles and 13 homers in just 358 at-bats. His slugging percentage of .430 was .51 points higher than the previous season. The icing on the cake, he stole 21 bases and was only caught four times.
He went on to play winter ball in the Australian Baseball League after the 2017 season and played the ’17-’18 season with the Perth Heat. The heatwave continued for Whitley in Australia as he slashed .265/.384/.503 in 40 games. The arrows were certainly pointing up for the five-tool talent.
Whitley entered the 2018 spring still ranked as the ninth-ranked prospect, but his game appeared to all be coming together. Toward the end of the spring, he suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder diving for a ball. The momentum he had been building came to a screeching halt.
Whitley was out of the season.
Whitley rehabbed and returned to action in Charlotte last season. Still just 22-years-old, Whitley got back to work. He was perhaps a tad rusty, but as if professional baseball isn’t hard enough, try taking a year off.
His speed was on full display as he ripped 25 doubles, seven triples, and swiped 16 bags. He slashed .226/.339/.412. A real bright-side to his 2019 season, Whitley totaled 42 extra-base hits in just 114 games. He was invited to spring training this season. He is no longer ranked inside of the top 30 prospects, but his skills can change that perception very quickly.
Another Setback in 2020
Just two days prior to this writing, Whitley was struck in the face with a foul ball. Whitley was seated in the dugout when a foul ball rocketed through the entrance of the dugout and hit Whitley square in the face before he could react. According to Rays manager, Kevin Cash, Whitley will miss a significant amount of time with multiple facial fractures.
We wish Garrett Whitley the best in his recovery and hope to see all five of those tools on display in St. Pete in the near future.