Rangers Prospect #32: John Whittleman

Whittleman led the Cal League in walks last year

Third baseman John Whittleman figures to play a full season in his home state with Double-A Frisco in 2009. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the 22-year-old prospect with a feature article and an in-depth scouting report.

Vital Statistics:
Name: John Whittleman
Position: Third Base
DOB: February 11, 1987
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

A product of the Houston area's Kingwood High School, John Whittleman was drafted by the Rangers in the second round -- 67th overall -- of the 2005 MLB Draft, mostly because the club loved his offensive potential.

Whittleman showed promise shortly after signing, as he batted .279 with 20 extra-base hits and 35 walks in 190 at-bats with the rookie-level AZL Rangers.

The Rangers felt Whittleman's physical and mental polish would allow him to jump past short-season Spokane, and he began the 2006 regular season with the Clinton LumberKings. Whittleman was part of a historically poor Clinton team that finished just 45-94, and the third baseman struggled himself, batting just .227. However, the Rangers kept him there all season and it eventually paid off.

The native Texan burst out of the gates with Clinton in 2007, as he was the Midwest League's top hitter during the first half of the season. Whittleman topped off the phenomenal half by taking former Mets [now Twins] pitching prospect Delois Guerra yard in the MLB All-Star Futures Game.

The Rangers kept Whittleman in Clinton after the break, and he went into a massive slump. The club eventually promoted him to Bakersfield late in the year, hoping to break him out of the funk. While he still struggled average-wise with the Blaze [hitting .240], Whittleman drew more walks [23 in 29 games] and went back to hitting for power.

Whittleman went back to Bakersfield for the 2008 season and he was largely inconsistent. He batted just .257, but finished seventh in the California League in doubles [36] and first in walks [81].

The organization felt it was time to push Whittleman late in the season, and they promoted him to Double-A Frisco for the Texas League playoff run. Playing in nine regular season games, Whittleman was 8-for-31 with two doubles, one home run, and eight walks.

Also See: Whittleman making up for lost time (March 16, 2008)
Whittleman looks for strong finish (August 6, 2008)
Whittleman at home with ‘Riders (August 23, 2008)
Whittleman preparing for key season (March 17, 2009)

Batting and Power: Whittleman, who has a sweet left-handed stroke, has always possessed loads of potential at the plate. He's a line drive hitter with more gap-to-gap power than home run power, but when he's going well, he can definitely knock his fair share over the fence.

The 22-year-old is also a very patient hitter, but he may be patient to a fault at times. Whittleman has a great eye and excellent strike-zone discipline, but he sometimes takes too many good pitches early in the count, causing him to call behind and leading to a high number of strikeouts.

Whittleman has all the tools necessary to break out at any time, and he looked solid late in the season and into the playoffs with Double-A Frisco late last summer.

Base Running and Speed: Whittleman's speed is a tick below average, and while he isn't exactly a liability on the basepaths, he isn't a threat to steal many bases either. After swiping 11 bags in 15 tries with the AZL Rangers in 2005, he has just 12 steals in three full seasons.

Defense: Whittleman still has all the tools necessary to develop into a solid defender at third base. His body plays well at the position, he has average range, decent hands, and a strong arm. He's shown flashes of brilliance over the last few seasons, but he will too often follow up a spectacular play with an error.

The third baseman has committed 34, 34 and 29 errors, respectively, in his three full professional seasons. He still must work on footwork as well as the mental aspects of the position. To his credit, Whittleman is a tireless worker in the field, and if he is unable to stick at third base, it certainly will not be from a lack of effort.

Projection: Whittleman still has the talent to take over as the Rangers' third baseman of the future, but he could also never reach the Majors. The 2009 campaign will play a big factor in which of the two directions Whittleman heads in. If he reaches his ceiling, he could become a .270-.280 hitter in the big leagues with a high on-base percentage and slightly above-average power.

2009 Outlook: As Whittleman mentioned in a mid-March interview, 2009 will be a big year for him. A great season could put Whittleman in the Majors before the season is over – especially with the Rangers' future third base situation in question. The opportunity is there for Whittleman to cement himself as the club's third baseman of the future. However, a disappointing season could cause him to fall off the Rangers' radar.

ETA:2010.

Year Team AVG AB 2B HR RBI R SB BB SO OBP SLG
2005 AZL Rangers (RK) .279 190 12 0 35 31 11 35 42 .393 .426
2006 Clinton (A) .227 466 21 9 43 56 6 60 97 .313 .343
2007 Clinton (A) .271 336 25 14 57 56 5 63 91 .382 .476
Bakersfield (A+) .240 104 9 3 15 18 0 23 33 .372 .413
2008 Bakersfield (A+) .257 439 36 7 59 72 1 81 113 .370 .392
Frisco (AA) .258 31 2 1 5 6 0 8 9 .410 .419

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