Who’s Next? The Top Pitching Prospects Left in the System, #7 - Robert Whalen | Astromets Mind

Friday, July 3, 2015

Who’s Next? The Top Pitching Prospects Left in the System, #7 - Robert Whalen

Image from this Rubin Farm Report

Re-ranking the Top starting pitchers within the Mets farm system now that Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard have graduated.

            Coming into the 2015 season, the Mets farm system was a consensus Top-5 system in the majors thanks to some high-end talent at the top, but they’ve graduated several top prospects, including their top-2 starting pitching prospects, and figure to take a hit in those rankings this offseason. That’s not a bad thing though, because it means that the Mets are starting to improve from within, which is the purpose of a farm system. Also, it means that the door is open for the next crop of prospects to emerge, and the Mets still have some starting pitching prospects with major league upside worth keeping an eye on.

            For this list, I have limited myself to full-season starters, because we still know relatively little about the short-season pitchers, and those guys are far from helping away. Notably absent from this list is Marcos Molina, because he’s too much of an unknown at this point. He would easily rank among the top 2-3 starters left if healthy, and he’d probably be #1 if he could pitch like he did last year in Brooklyn without the scary mechanics – everyone who saw him last year said the same two things: he has great stuff, but his mechanics are big red flags. But, he’s not pitching right now because of a forearm strain, and he’s not having Tommy John surgery either, so what are the Mets getting when he returns? Will he have the same mechanics? If so, why should we expect him to stay healthy this time? If not, will his stuff be as good? Either way, this is looking like a lost season for Molina, and we still have to wait-and-see if this injury carries over to next season. 

Robert Whalen

UPDATE: Whalen has been placed on the FSL 7-Day DL (7/2)

             Whalen has had a quietly effective season down in St. Lucie, as Robert Gsellman stole the attention early, and John Gant has done the same since taking Gsellman’s spot. Still, Whalen features a low-90’s fastball, a strong curveball, and has been working on a slider and changeup with St. Lucie (per the radio, I haven’t seen him live this year). He’s allowed 3 ER or less in 13 of 14 starts, but he hasn’t been striking as many batters out, and his walk rate spiked in June – 14.3% BB-rate in June after a 5.8% BB-rate over the first two months.
            Whalen is a similar pitcher to Gsellman, in that they both have success thanks to an average fastball, a big curveball and a relentless attack on the bottom of the zone, and that they both came into 2015 needing work on their changeup. Last year, Whalen had very large L/R OPS splits (.399 OPS vs. RHB/.678 OPS vs. LHB), and this year they’ve reversed to this point (.681 OPS vs. RHB/.522 OPS vs. LHB).
            While he still isn’t allowing a lot of hard contact (0.64 ISO/.606 OPS for the season), Whalen’s recent control issues are concerning. With an improving changeup and his normally good control, I could see him fitting at the back of a major league rotation, but there have been concerns about him sticking as a starter since this past offseason.

His 2014 GIF collection

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