Tampa Bay Rays’ former first-rounder, Garrett Whitley, may be ready for the start of the season after suffering a foul ball to the face.
Tampa Bay Rays 2015 first-round draft pick, Garrett Whitley was struck by an errant foul ball that found its way through the entrance to the dugout and smashed into the right side of the prospect’s face.
While it initially appeared Whitley would be forced to miss a significant amount of time, good news is being reported today.
MLB.com Rays’ beat writer, Juan Toribio tweeted the following:
The Orioles’ Renato Nunez yanked a foul ball skidding into the Rays dugout. The ball was a rocket and Whitley barely had time to look, let alone react. Whitley was escorted by the training staff out of the dugout for medical attention.
Whitley was sent to a local Sarasota hospital where he underwent further evaluations.
He suffered fractured facial bones but will not require surgery. He will be out while he heals but it certainly could have been a lot worse.
For Whitley, this is just another unfortunate setback on his path to the Major Leagues.
Whitley entered 2018 as the Rays ninth-ranked prospect. He was coming off of his best season yet, 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 Australia following the 2018 season, where he dominated in 40 games.
Whitley entered spring training in 2018 with high hopes when he dove for a ball and suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He missed the entire 2018 season.
He rehabbed and made his return in 2019, putting together a solid season and looking to continue his ascent to the big leagues.
Whitley is a five-tool player and it’s great to see that this potentially severe injury could be a minor setback. He is still just 22-years-old, turning 23 on March 13. We’d like to see those five tools on display in St. Pete someday.