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Boston Red Sox: Garrett Whitlock should be in the Rookie of the Year conversation

When the Red Sox drafted Garrett Whitlock in the Rule 5 draft, the club envisioned he would be depth as a swingman type pitcher. During the spring, Whitlock wowed Manager Alex Cora with his ability to throw all of his pitches. Cora also liked how Whitlock was like a sponge, soaking in everything people where telling him.

Whitlock came into the spring with a mindset that he needed to earn making the big-league club. The Red Sox drafted Whitlock with the fourth pick in the Rule 5 draft this past winter. The young right-hander would have to remain on the roster for a full season or be returned back to the Yankees.

Whitlock worked hard on and off the field to show his coaches and front office he wanted to be a member of the Red Sox. “I’ll give you the cliché answer because it’s genuinely my mindset,” Whitlock told WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “I’m not taking any days for granted. Each day I’m here I’m joyful about it and working my tail off.  Keeping my nose to the grindstone. Until AC says, ‘Hey son, you’re on the team,’ I’m going to keep fighting, I’m going to keep clawing, and I’m going to keep working my tail off to try and earn the spot.”

Garrett Whitlock learned a changeup from Matt Andriese

Whitlock learned a changeup from former Red Sox reliever Matt Andriese during the spring.

“In spring training, him being a Rule 5 guy, you’re soaking it all in,” Andriese told WEEI.com. “Trying to learn, trying to get your feet wet, trying to make the team. I noticed from Day 1 his stuff was really good. I started playing catch with him probably two or three times every five days. We kind of had similar schedules, so I started playing catch with him and I was just talking to him about his changeup.”

Whitlock has been throwing that changeup with confidence ever since, thanks to Andriese.

“This game is all about confidence, so the more confidence you can give to somebody who is trying to get their feet with the comfortable they are going to be and the more success they are going to have,” said Andriese.

Whitlock was dominant start to the season

Since making the team, Whitlock has done nothing but impress his manager and coaches. The young right-hander was impressive to start the season. He started the season retiring 25 consecutive batters before allowing a hit to Seattle’s Sam Haggerty in April.

Whitlock would throw 13 1/3 scoreless innings over six outings to begin his big-league career. The lowly Rangers would finally get to the rookie and Cora had high praise for him following that game.

“I mean, he’s only human, man,” Cora said with a chuckle during his postgame media availability. “The fact that he gave up the home run [and] the next pitch was 96 mph right down the middle, it tells you a lot about him. So, we’ll keep running him out there and he should be OK.”

Rookie of the Year candidate, Garrett Whitlock

After his appearance in the game against the Twins on Thursday night, Whitlock has thrown 62 innings pitched this season. He owns a 5-2 record with a 1.60 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP.

The 25-year-old made a relief appearance on Thursday night. He would come in following Chris Sale who was dominant against the Twins. The left-hander also threw an immaculate inning against Minnesota in the third inning.

Whitlock has been one of the few reliable arms in the bullpen for Cora this season. He has been able to pitch in high-leverage situations and could be someone to help close games if Matt Barnes continues to struggle.

Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo thinks that Whitlock should be involved in the AL Rookie of the Year conversation. “I don’t think he gets talked about enough from MLB or people like that,” Alex Verdugo said. “He’s having an unbelievable season.

“Definitely could be Rookie of the Year. He’s dominant, man. It doesn’t matter where you put him. You could put him in the seventh, have him go two-plus innings, get him in the ninth like we did today and have him go into extras and just eat up innings. The way he throws it is very impressive and it’s fun to watch. We’re happy we have that kind of guy on our side.”

Conclusion

Whitlock continues to pitch himself into the the Rookie of the Year conversation. He will be heavily relied on as the season comes to an end as someone Cora can use in high leverage spots. Whitlock could be the potential closer if Barnes continues to struggle.

The rookie has been one of the bright spots for Chaim Bloom as he built his roster heading into this season. Bloom has hit home runs with both Whitlock and Hunter Renfroe.

The last Red Sox player to win the Rookie of the Year was Dustin Pedroia. One of the last players who was a Rule 5 draft selection that went on to have an impressive career was Johan Santana. No one is saying Whitlock will become Santana but Rule 5 players can make an impact in the bigs. Whitlock has a chance but in the meantime he needs to shutdown the competition as his club looks to get into the postseason.

– Chris Henrique (@ChrisHenrique on Twitter)

Feature image courtesy of Blogging the Red Sox

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