This is an amendment to a countdown!!
With Dakota Hudson coming off of the list as he exhausts his rookie eligibility, it's time to bump everyone up a spot and add on to the back of the list. If you want an up to the minute look at the rest of The Dirty Thirty-Five, just go ahead and follow this link here! Until then, enjoy yourself some of the newest member of the D35!
Brady Whalen - First Baseman
Drafted in the 12th Round of the 2016 Draft
Short Season-A State College
2019 STATS, AS OF 5/1/2019
Yes, I do love Brady Whalen. I can't really explain it further than I already have in the past. I just really love how random his stats were leading into the 2019 season. That, and how athletic he is for a big boy.
Whalen is another player that feels like he's been around forever. Drafted out of high school in the 12th round of the 2016 draft, it's hard to believe that he's still only 21-years-old. Especially because of how big he is, and how his approach is engineered. There's a lot to like about Whalen, even if he's just getting his first taste of full season affiliated baseball as I type.
First, Whalen is another promising switch-hitter in the organization. He's basically a year older than Dylan Carlson, but he's a similar type-hitter as Carlson currently is. The difference is, Whalen is on a more traditional developmental path because he's just less developed. I wanted to take a second to steer this article into that direction in an effort to explain, once again, just how developed Calrson is. It's rare. Whalen is a good prospect with good tools that mirror Carlson's in many ways, but Carlson is just something different. Something special. Anyway, Whalen is kind of like a "Dylan Carlson lite" at this point, but with the potential to have similarly "loud" tools.
When I started crafting this write-up, it was before the beginning of the 2019 minor league season. It contained a bunch of lines that hinted at Whalen being a breakout star for Peoria in 2019. I predicted that Whalen would find some normalcy in both his walk and strikeout rates, while discovering some of the flashy power that he has shown in the past.
One month into the minor league season, and this has been exactly the case. I'm so good at this, you guys! If only there was proof of it, lol.
Because of how busy my schedule has been this month, I haven't had a lot of time to watch Whalen via those awful products that MiLB and MLBAM are putting out. You'll have to check back in around the All-Star break to find out what my concerns are with his bat, from a sustainability standpoint. Watching as little as I have, it seems like he struggles with the heat high in the zone, and especially away, but I'm going to hold off on committing to that as an area of weakness. I also have some minor concerns about his handling of inside breaking pitches, especially because he's always hitting against breaking pitches that are coming in on him, but I'm going to take some time to hone in on that moving forward. Plus, because of how well he's hitting, it really feels like there isn't much in the way of a weakness in his hitting profile right now. It's going to be fun to see how pitchers adjust to him throughout the season.
Regardless of which .gif in this article you are looking at, you can see how quick and easy his swing is, even if it is a bit long and on the flat side.
It also doesn't appear that there's a count that Whalen is susceptible to struggling during, currently. Like with most hitters, he definitely has his struggles in 0-2 or 1-2 counts against tough breaking pitches, but he's already made strides from prior season in dealing with those pitches. He will need to continue to improve in this area, but I have faith that it will come. When you post the walk rates that Whalen has posted in the past, that's usually a pretty good indication that you have a solid feel for how to work counts. My guess is, he'll start to work those counts a little bit better once he gets the chance to adapt to the Midwest League.
Deeper investigation and examination is needed. Also, I'd like a little more time to compare left-handed hitting Whalen to right-handed hitting Whalen. As I write this, Brady has had ten plate appearances while hitting right-handed. It's common place to appraise a switch-hitter based on past performance. I get that, and I get why. It's not something that I am going to do here, though. This is, in part, because judging a switch-hitter based on short-season affiliated baseball is tough. Also, if there's one thing that the splits of switch-hitters Tommy Edman and Dylan Carlson have taught us, it's that statistical analysis from year to year can be misleading and terribly terribly inconsistent. I want to, and need to, see more.
We've talked about it a bunch before, but Whalen is also a very good defensive first baseman. He has the agility of an average third baseman at first, and he gets good reads off of the bat. There are times when he is down-right talented at picking the ball in the dirty, but there are also times when he can get a little sloppy with it. I'm not sure if it's exactly the truth yet or not because judging defense at first can be kind of a novelty based on opportunities, but Whalen appears to easily fit into the upper echelon of defensively talented first basemen in the organization.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Whalen has gotten off to a great start for Peoria in what just might be a breakout season for him. He's another promising switch-hitting prospect that hasn't come along as quickly as Dylan Carlson has, but possesses some of the similar tools that make Carlson appealing. A very good defensive first baseman, the question moving forward for Whalen will be if he can keep the offensive production up when he eventually gets past the Midwest League.
Thanks to FanGraphs for the stats.
Thanks For Reading!