We have heard so much about the five Phillies starting pitching prospects at AA Reading but the work last night of Clearwater Threshers starting pitcher David Whitehead will be hard to top. Whitehead was one of the first pitchers in baseball this season to pitch sixth shutout innings in his first start. He gave up only four hits, striking out eight, walking only one and getting more ground ball than fly outs to pick up the win. That was a quality start at any level.
Any young starting pitcher who has a low pitch count to go deep into games, gets more ground ball outs than fly outs and averages more than a strikeout an inning will get on any teams top prospect list. That was David Whitehead. He kept his fastball down in the zone and it sat in the low 90’s topping out at 93. He kept the Blue Jays batters off balance all night with a high 70’s curve ball which he would drop in for a strike.
But what really impressed me was the moxie of Whitehead in the fifth inning when he stranded the leadoff runner at third with no outs by getting two strikeouts and a fly out to end the inning. See Here. Here. and Here. The runner advanced to third on a wild throw on a pickoff attempt by Whitehead but he remained composed.
Whitehead then went out in the bottom of the sixth appearing to tire initially but reached back for something extra to get out of the inning. After a lead off double and a walk he again struck out the next two Blue Jays batters before getting a ground out to end the inning. It was one of the best shutdown innings I have ever seen since the Threshers took the lead in the top of the sixth on a bizarre rundown which netted them their first run when a Drew Stankiewicz bouncer knocked off the pitcher’s glove. See Here The second run was scored in the inning on a double by Andrew Pullin. See Here.
The Threshers 2-0 lead held up helped by strong relief pitching in the seventh and eight innings by Lee Ridenhour who recorded two strikeouts on low 80’s breaking pitches which were set up by his fastball sitting at 92. Ninth inning closer Ulises Joaquin came on to end the game with a strikeout on a 95 mph fast ball to pick up the save. See Here.
It is said that good pitching and defense wins games. That might be true but it helps to have a starting pitcher like David Whitehead who has the moxie to reach back and have something extra left in the tank when the going gets tough and the game is on the line.
The Phillies might have a Fab Five starting rotation for Reading snowbound in Portland Maine but after last night’s game in balmy Dunedin Florida, David Whitehead showed he is one of the best starting pitching prospect they have.