Rays Draft Garrett Whitley
The Rays selected Niskayuna High School (New York) outfielder Garrett Whitley with the 13th pick.
Reportedly a candidate to go first-overall for signability purposes, Whitley is a raw and athletic teenager with a high ceiling and a long developmental path ahead—or a total departure from the Rays’ rumored low-beta, quick-to-boil strategy.
Patience will be required for Whitley to reach that ceiling. Though his impressive foot and bat speed give him a chance to mature into a well-rounded center fielder, he’ll need time for his technique to match his physical gifts. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone—all but the elite draftees need years of repetitions under professional guidance—yet it’s important to not place unrealistic expectations on his progression through the minors or estimated arrival date. Instead Whitley will likely progress at a slower-than-desired pace, especially at first.
A steep part of Whitley’s learning curve will involve his plate approach and how it impacts his quality of contact. Projecting any player’s hit tool is one of the toughest challenges in scouting; Whitley’s substandard quality of competition further complicates that process. Comparatively, judging the rest of Whitley’s tools are a breeze: he has well-above-average foot speed and at least an average arm. Based on his bat speed and path, as well as his lower-body movements, there’s also a belief he could boast above-average in-game power—again, though, it all hinges on how well the hit tool translates.
Should Whitley put it all together, he could become a good defensive center fielder with a solid batting average and an intriguing power-speed blend—or, to put it simply, a star. Whitley developing into something less than that is more likely, with the question becoming just how much less.
But Whitley and the Rays have years to worry about that. For now, Tampa Bay’s more pressing concern is persuading Whitley to forgo his commitment to Wake Forest.