Chicago Cubs: Blake Whitney is an interesting case for South Bend
Chicago Cubs: Struggles to strengths
The University of South Carolina-Upstate is a part of the Atlantic Sun Conference with a student population of roughly 6,000. To say the campus is small is an understatement. The baseball program has improved drastically in the last few years but still struggled to win consistently.
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Whitney began his collegiate career for the Spartans by appearing in 16 games, making 11 starts. He finished his freshman season with a 3-4 record and a 5.48 ERA across 67 1/3 innings. While Whitney did do an excellent job limiting the long ball in his first college season, the righty did struggle with command, posting a 4.68 BB/9.
Between his sophomore and junior seasons, things came off the rails a bit for Whitney, at least in the earned run department, as Whitney posted back-to-back seasons with a 5.50 or higher ERA. His sophomore season saw an atrocious 5.93 ERA. Thankfully, other areas for Whitney improved drastically.
His senior season was a turning point. Whitney appeared in 13 games, making starts in each game in which he appeared and pitched to a mind-boggling 2.81 ERA over 73 2/3 innings. Whitney maintained a consistently strong 10.02 K/9 rate while managing to massively decrease his walks per nine innings from 3.54 the year before to a 2.57 in his final season.
Theo Epstein must have been impressed with his drive and effort to improve. He officially joined the Cubs in the 24th round and was off to the races in hopes of making his footprint known, not only for Epstein and company but, more importantly, for the fans. So far, it has been an exciting ride for Whitney.