Baseball Prospect Journal

Whitley bursts onto the scene

Garrett Whitley’s passion for baseball began when he was just a young boy, leading his father into their backyard to play wiffle ball.

Now as Whitley approaches the final season of his high school career, that craving for the game has continued, as he has developed into one of the top high school position players in the country.

MLB.com currently rates Whitley as the 35th ranked prospect for June’s Major League Baseball Draft. However less than a year ago, Whitley was virtually an unknown prospect to major Division I baseball coaches and professional scouts.

“Being from the northeast not many people come up here,” Whitley said. “I played American Legion so I was never playing the travel tournaments. People really didn’t know about me until this summer.”

Whitley, who lives in New York, believes that it has been harder to get noticed because of where he lives.

“I think (it is harder to get noticed in the northeast),” Whitley said. “There is that northern prejudice where people think that us guys up here in the cold weather states can’t play just because we can’t be outside year-round.”

This didn’t hinder Whitley however, as he persevered and continued to put in the hard work needed to be the best he could be.

Prior to the start of his junior year, he decided to commit to Wake Forest.

“Wake Forest was what I was looking for in a school, as it is a place I can play great baseball and get a great education because academics are very important to me as well,” Whitley said. “Wake Forest is undoubtedly one of the best places in the country for me to do both of those things.

“It was in an area of the country that I liked. I really liked the coaches and the campus. It just really fit.”

The lack of attention he received from other schools gave him motivation to succeed and to prove that he is just as talented as other high school players around the country.

In his junior season he put up monster numbers, hitting .474 with two home runs, 25 runs batted in and 10 doubles in 57 at-bats. This success earned him the opportunity to compete with other top high school players in tournaments around the country.

He participated in the East Coast Professional Showcase in Syracuse, N.Y. and the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif. These events are designed for the top high school players to compete against each other while interacting with professional coaches and scouts.

“Those experiences were really cool,” Whitley said. “I hadn’t done anything like that before. I hadn’t even faced 90 mph before. Getting to play against and with that level of competition for those few weeks was amazing. I had a great time.”

He preformed extremely well at these events, causing pro scouts to take notice of his ability. Now with his senior season only a month away, it is safe to say more than just a few scouts will be in attendance to watch the gifted centerfield in preparation for the draft.

Whitley is an extremely athletic individual who possesses great speed and raw power from the right side of the plate. He also plays solid defense in centerfield, especially for living in the northeast and not getting much time to prepare before the season begins on his defensive skills.

He describes himself as a well-rounded player, and knows if he can continue to improve on the little things, that he has the potential to be even better.

If he is able to continue to produce at a high level in his senior campaign, there is no question that he will have a great chance at being selected in the first-round of the MLB Draft this year.

Although he isn’t thinking too much about the draft right now, he said he is excited to see how it all plays out.

He also stated he isn’t leaning one way or another on whether or not he will go straight into pro ball or honor his commitment with Wake Forest right now. But, he did make it known what his ultimate goal is.

“My goal, my dream is to play professional baseball, to play in the MLB,” Whitley said. “But, I do have a great opportunity at Wake Forest. My education is very important to me too. It will just depend on how the draft plays out. I am excited for the draft.”

Video: FanGraphs

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