Friday, December 29, 2006

Prospect Profile: Kevin Whelan (#17)

Age: 22
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 200
Drafted: 4th round in 2005 by Detroit out of Texas A&M
Position: Relief Pitcher
Throws: Right

Stuff: Whelan was converted from catcher for two reasons. First, he couldn't hit. Second, he throws hard. Whelan sits at 92-95 mph, but with more experience and innings he could crank it up even harder. He very quickly developed a plus splitter, which he uses as his strikeout pitch. He was the top relief pitcher in the Cape Code league in 2004, less than a year after converting. His delivery is still a little messy, as can be expected. He has a career K/9 in college of 11.57 and 12.68 in professonal ball.

Command: As can be expected, Whelan is wild. He walked over 5 per 9 innings in college, and 4.26 per 9 in the minor leagues. Despite all of this, Whelan boasts a 2.97 K/BB ratio. As his control improves, Whelan will become a serious weapon. He has front line closer stuff if he can control it. Despite the poor command, Whelan clearly is a step ahead of the low minor leagues. He has allowed 4.49 hits per 9 innings in his career.

Outlook: The Yankees will likely push Whelan to Trenton, where he could serve as the team's closer. Whelan's developing arm will be pushed harder, probably to the tune of 75+ innings. The Tigers were careful with his innings last season, limiting him to just 54. Whelan is just 22 years old and will need at least two full seasons in the minors to learn how to pitch. The Yankees have no reason to rush him with J.B. Cox and T.J. Beam waiting in the wings to take spots on the major league roster.

Grades: Ceiling B+, Health B Comparison: Too early to tell. Give him time.