Looking at the pool of New York Yankees prospects invited to Spring Training this season, middle reliever Chase Whitley may not seem like the first player you would look at, but he seems to have a pretty good chance of playing for the Yankees in 2014. In the minor leagues, the 24-year-old right-hander holds a career ERA of 2.66 and an 8.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. He has also held hitters to a 7.4 H/9 and 0.6 HR/9 with a total of 27 saves in his short career.
In 2013, Whitley was invited to Tampa to participate in Spring Training with the Yankees. Unfortunately, he sustained an oblique injury that forced him to sit out for a month and a half, which ultimately made him lose his chance to be called up to the big leagues and Preston Claiborne was chosen in his place. Whitley was sent to Scranton for the season, where he pitched 46.2 innings and posted a 3.06 ERA. Towards the end of the season, when the Yankees expanded their roster, Whitley was called up and compiled a 1.61 ERA in five appearances.
In 2014, Whitley received another invitation to Spring Training with the Yankees and will go up against pitchers like Dellin Betances and Mark Montgomery for a shot at a big- league roster spot. Even if he doesn’t make the team at the start of the season, he should be high on the list to replace someone due to injury.
The Yankees have a lot of questions to answer when it comes to their starting rotation and bullpen. For the first time in two decades they will be turning to a new closer. Even though the team picked up lefty Matt Thornton during the offseason, there is still a need for middle relievers. So, the opportunity for Whitley to make his mark should arise. Another possibility is that the Yankees can experiment with him as a starter and use him as cover if one of the members of the starting rotation gets injured.
The point is that Whitley is ready to make his jump to the big leagues and there should be an abundance of chances for him in 2014.