New York Yankees Prospects: The Yankees have another intriguing pitching prospect Garrett Whitlock

The New York Yankees certainly have some pitching problems to solve during this offseason. It’s not so much that they are problems; it’s that they presently don’t have a rotation firmed up for the 2021 baseball season. Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ are now all free agents after the Yankees failed to give them qualifying offers, leaving only Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery. You could say that the Yankees pitching rotation is in the worst shambles of any team.

You might see this situation being awful for the Yankees at first glance, but it is probably not a bad as it would seem. Yes, the Yankees need a number two starter to begin the new season and back up ace Gerrit Cole. They could choose to bring back Domingo German, the Yankees’ winningness pitcher in 2019 before he was suspended; they will also have Luis Severino returning from Tommy John surgery in June or July.  That brings me to a bevy of young pitching prospects that could anchor the pitching rotation.

Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt made their pitching debuts in 2020. You are probably familiar with those names, but the New York Yankees have another intriguing pitching prospect, Garrett Whitlock, one you have probably never heard of.

Whitlock started playing baseball at the age of nine in Snellville, Georgia. He started out playing in the infield and later in the outfield, but he concentrated on pitching as time went by. During his high school years, he continued to hone his pitching skills. While at UAB, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the New York Yankees drafted him in the 2017 draft in the 18th round. Whitlock spun a 31-inning scoreless streak in his first full pro season and advanced to Double-A before having Tommy John surgery in July 2019. 

What makes Whitlock intriguing compared to some other pitching prospects is that he has an amazing sinking fastball that clocks out as high at 96 mph. Scouts have noticed it has a tremendous sinking rate. He also has a low-three-quarters delivery. He follows that up with a slow slider with two-plane depth. But Whitlock is not just a two-pitch pitcher; he also has a changeup and breaking ball, although he admits that his two-seam fastball is his best pitch.

Being that there was no minor league season in 2020, he didn’t miss much and is expected back on the field this season, assuming he is not grabbed in the Rule 5 draft. The Yankees could only protect so many players, and he wasn’t one of them. He is on the roster for the 2021 season for the Somerset Patriots. The Patriots recently replaced the River Dogs.

Although he was both a starter and bullpen guy in college at Alabama, the New York Yankees have used him only as a starter. He works quickly and can eat up a lot of innings, saving the bullpen. He is most comfortable in that starter role. He is tall at 6′ 5″ and 190 pounds and is just 24 years old. After returning from surgery, fans probably won’t hear much about this year, but he is a pitching prospect the Yankee fans will want to watch. With his tall frame and a live fastball, it would not be surprising to see Whitlock emerge in 2021 with more of a strikeout approach that can raise his ceiling from a mid-rotation starter to something more.