Cubs: Low-risk high-reward flyer
The second prospect on this list is a former top 20 prospect in the New York Yankees system, and that is right-handed pitcher Garrett Whitlock who is considered by many as one of the top options in this year’s Rule 5 draft.
Whitlock is a bit of a mystery and defines a ‘draft day flyer’ in its purest form. A selection by the Yankees in the 18th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Whitlock has already assembled an excellent professional resume.
His first season with a legitimate sample size came in 2018 at Class-A Charleston. After seeing a minute amount of action in the lower levels, Whitlock made seven starts for the RiverDogs. He finished the year with a 1.13 ERA over 40 innings and carried a robust 29.7 percent strikeout rate along with a 4.7 percent walk rate. Not a bad beginning for a guy passed over 541 times by teams.
Whitlock was not done during the 2018 campaign, not by a long shot. He jumped up to Class-A Advanced Tampa, making 13 starts, and finished with a 2.44 ERA and 25.1 percent strikeout rate. The free passes increased in a limited capacity, but it did not stop Whitlock from climbing up the minor league ladder.
The 24-year-old finished the year at Double-A Trenton for a cup of coffee, where he enjoyed a smattering of innings, 10 2/3 to be exact. Much of his statistics on paper show a less than stellar showing. However, Whitlock did somehow manage a 0.84 ERA over the span. In 21 starts, when it was all said and done, he had finished with a 1.86 ERA over the three levels and looked ready to prime.
Unfortunately, in 2019, Whitlock underwent Tommy John surgery. He did manage a strong campaign in return to Trenton beforehand, finishing with a 3.07 ERA and 3.14 FIP, respectively. His 3.09 xFIP was his best mark since his time at Class-A. As a 6’5″ pitcher who weighs a mere 195 pounds, Whitlock commands the zone with his sinking fastball, which has reached the thralls of 96 mph.
If they were to select the righty, one benefit for the Cubs would be his rights and the cost associated with it. Whitlock is not on the Yankees’ 40-man roster, nor a part of the Triple-A 38-man roster. He comes with no strings attached and would cost Chicago $24,000. They would also not be required to place him on their 40-man or risk the loss. If there is one player to take that flyer on, it is most certainly Whitlock.