Kodi Whitley Could Be On The Move, Again
There have been times in the offseason when righthander Kodi Whitley returned home and took a ribbing from his mother about how long he’d go before unpacking his luggage. It could be a month, maybe a bit more.
The 25-year-old always seemed ready to move, again.
Last season he had reason.
Whitley started the season at high Class A Palm Beach and was promoted within a week, igniting a sprint that would include 50 appearances spread over three different levels and ultimately put him in the Arizona Fall League and on the doorstep of the majors.
Unerring command and a fastball with some sizzle will take you places.
"To be honest,” he said. "I never unpacked last year. A lot, a lot, a lot of moving.”
A 27th-round pick out of Mount Olive (N.C.) in 2017, Whitley has accelerated his advancement since becoming a full-time reliever and unlocking his mechanics for added velocity.
Last season Whitley struck out 78 batters in 67.1 innings and walked just 19, two of which were intentional. He recorded a 1.60 ERA and 1.07 WHIP.
Brought to big league spring training to get time in front of the major league coaches, Whitley struck out eight of the first 15 batters he faced.
He touched 98 mph during one spring training outing, and that shows where his velocity has come since low Class Peoria in 2018.
Using available tech and teaching, Whitley reworked his mechanics to create better drive and rely less on his arm to generate power. He scrapped his sinker. He focused on his four-seam fastball that has jump and deception, and he went from operating in the low 90s to consistently sitting around 95 mph.
The giddy-up to the fastball allows him to challenge hitters with strikes, too.
That has the Cardinals eyeing him for a role where they’ve usually used sinkerballers, like Seth Maness and Matt Bowman—the fireman who extinguishes trouble. Whitley may not break camp with the big league club, but he’ll be told to keep his bag packed.
He’s got one more move to make.
— One of the Cardinals’ most heralded prospects of the past 40 years, lefthander Rick Ankiel, joined the team during spring training for a week-long visit as a prospective coach. Ankiel, a hotshot pitcher who retired his curveball to become a power-hitting outfielder, spent several days with pitchers and hitters to learn where he might best fit with a club.
— Every hitter in the Cardinals’ minor league system will have their own Blast Baseball tech to affix to their bat and help collect data to review, adjust, and advance their approach.