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When you think top prep draft prospects, one may think of Texas, Florida or California. It’s not the athletes or even the training style. It comes down to the fact that warm weather states have players who play year round. They play league games and tournaments every week, except for the one week break they get during Christmas time. When late fall rolls around for amateurs in the Northeast, they move indoors to train and work on mechanics. Players who are able to play year round simply get more field exposure. So, when you take a Mike Trout or Todd Frazier, both from New Jersey, and have them train year round, they get dramatically better.
There’s a similar situation for players in Canada. As most know, Canadian players are eligible for the draft. Since most Canadian High Schools don’t have baseball teams, Canadian prospects aren’t as fully developed as U.S. prospects. Canadian prospects will join travel teams who go to the United States to play more. Jason Bay’s high school didn’t have baseball, so he played varsity curling. Rarely do you ever see a player go in first two rounds from the Northeast. Garrett Whitley looks to change this in June.
Niskayuna is a quiet town on the outskirts of New York’s capital, Albany. In 2002, they saw former wide receiver, Andre Davis, debut for the Cleveland Browns. He later went on to enjoy seasons with the New England Patriots, and the Buffalo Bills, before retiring with the Houston Texans after the 2009 season. Niskayuna High School is yet again excited with the possibility of another professional athlete.
Garrett Whitley experienced a breakout junior year, absolutely tearing up the tournament circuit. Whitley was able to not only hold his own, but thrive against the best players in the country at the Area Code Games. For those who do not know, the Area Code Games are a tournament that takes place every year in August. Scouts from all the MLB teams and coaches from top colleges flock to Long Beach, California, to see the very best of the prep players go head to head. With that said, Whitley put himself on the map with a strong Area Code performance, and an impressive 2014 summer.
Whitley brings a rare combination of power and speed to the plate, which is highly sought after. He combines powerful wrist and overall body strength to have plus bat speed. His bat speed will lead him to develop above average power and ability to hit to all parts of the field. Also, this will allow him to compete with the power pitching that he doesn’t see on a regular basis in New York. With more time to develop, his raw tools could translate into both plus power and plus hitting ability. Seeing that he hasn’t played year round or against the best talent on a regular basis, he could become a “diamond in the rough.”
Speed currently is his best tool. This could translate into 20 stolen bases a year. It’s believed that his speed will translate into an above average center fielder, who may be able to stick in center. His arm is average at the moment, but who knows what strength training will do for Whitley.
Garrett Whitley could be one of the best prep New Yorkers to sign out of high school in the past few drafts. Pitcher Anthony Romanelli was considered to be a top New Yorker, but due to his strong commitment to Wake Forrest, teams lost interest. Drew Lugbauer was also a top NY standout, and was taken in the 21st round by the Blue Jays, but decided to attend University of Michigan. With continued work, Whitley could be the biggest late first/early second round steal in the draft. He seems very focused on being able to compete with whoever goes up against him. The determination is what teams love to see in amateur players. I’d like to wish him the best of luck to him and his high school team for the 2015 season.