Area Code Games Notebook: Day 5

See Also: Area Code Games Day 1

See Also: Area Code Games Day 2

See Also: Area Code Games Day 3

See Also: Area Code Games Day 4


LONG BEACH, Calif.—Ask some evaluators where to get certain positional profiles and they will say to get power pitchers you go to Texas, to get athletes you go to Florida and Georgia and to get bats you go to California. The Northeast typically doesn’t garner those distinctions, but this year it might because some evaluators believe that the Yankees (Northeast) lineup might be the most talented at the Area Code Games.

The lineup includes a pair of Canadians (as many scouts who have Canada, especially the eastern half, also cover Canada) in Josh Naylor, the runner-up in the MLB Junior Select Home Run Derby, and Demi Orimoloye, one of the breakout players of the Area Code Games. A pair of polished Pennsylvania infielders (John Aiello and Travis Blankenhorn) are vital cogs in the top five spots in the lineup, and Area Code Games Home Run Derby champion Joe Davis provides another potent offensive force.

Outfielder Garrett Whitley of Niskayuna (N.Y.) High has the skill set that has allowed him to fit into the leadoff spot and also the middle of the order, offering one of the top combinations of power and speed in all of the prep class.

Whitley was not known to the national scouting community until East Coast Pro, where he was a breakout player. He has continued his strong showing across the country. Whitley has primarily played Legion ball until this summer.

“This is my first time doing something like this and it is fun playing against the best high school competition in the country,” Whitley said. “I always believe in myself, but coming from New York I don’t see a lot of pitchers like this. It is nice to see now that I can compete with these guys.”

The righthanded-hitting Whitley showcases above-average raw power from the right side of the plate, offering bat speed and physical strength. Whitley has put together quality at-bats over the last week and a half, especially for a player from the Northeast, all while showcasing his athleticism, physicality and power-speed combo.

“At the beginning I was expecting for the pitching to be better than what I was used to facing, and it was,” Whitley said. “I also expected to make adjustments. I think I have done that and I am feeling more comfortable in the box.”

He is extremely intelligent and articulate, demonstrating the ability to make changes and learn quickly from the coaching staff that is filled with scouts.

“Since Syracuse I have been working with the coaches about getting more power out of my swing and loosening up my hands and changing my batting stance a little bit,” Whitley said. “I am seeing differences already and it hasn’t even been two weeks yet. Originally my stance was really wide and my feet were really wide, so we brought my feet in and we loosened my hands because I was gripping the bat a little too hard. So we loosened those and just those two things have helped a lot.”

He made a considerable amount of contact, unofficially swinging and missing on 16 percent of his swings (an above-average rate for the showcase circuit) between East Coast Pro and the Area Code Games. His batted-ball tendencies have shown a proclivity to go up the middle and to the opposite field gap.

“I have really improved on driving the ball to right field because I used to be more of a pull hitter but now I feel like I can hit the ball hard the other way,” Whitley said.

The Wake Forest commit went 0-4 on the day but created loud contact nearly even time up.  He hit a hard line drive at the right fielder in his first trip up before driving the ball to deep center field. Whitley smoked another line drive his third time up, grounding out in his final plate appearance and running an above-average time to first.

Whitley has at least above-average speed and posted one of the top 60-yard dash times (6.65) at East Coast Pro. Evaluators believe that he has the speed to potentially play center field at the next level. He offers an accurate arm that projects to be at least average.

He has a strong, physical build with a powerful lower half at 6-foot-1, 199 pounds. Whitley will travel to the Metropolitan Baseball Classic later this month and is slated to play in Jupiter.

Whitley, 17, will likely be the first player ever drafted out of his high school.

• Home Run Derby champion Joe Davis created hard line drive contact in three of his four plate appearances, all scorching singles to the gaps and up the middle. A natural righthanded-hitter, Davis went to a lefthanded swing for one plate appearance that he has been working on.