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Cardinals first full-squad workout in Jupiter

Cardinals pitching prospect Kodi Whitley. (Post-Dispatch photo by Laurie Skrivan)

Bats/Throws: R/R ... Height: 6-4 ... Age: 25

Acquired: Drafted 27th round (Mount Olive), 2017.

In 2019: 3-4, 1.60 ERA, 50 games (zero starts), 67 1/3 IP, 78 K, 19 BB, 1.07 WHIP at Class A Palm Beach, Class AA Springfield, and Class AAA Memphis, combined.

Baseball America ranking: No. 18.

MLB.com ranking: No. 14.

Scouting report: When/if baseball resumes and does so with a condensed spring training and the possibility of expanded rosters, no non-roster player is better positioned for a promotion at this moment than Whitley. The righthander impressed during spring training with his stuff (“stuff plays,” the manager said) and his ability to throw strikes with it. Whether the Cardinals are looking to fill middle innings or sort through late-inning options, Whitley’s penchant for strikes is a plus. “Just trusting my pitches in the zone,” Whitley said during a conversation earlier this month in the Cardinals’ clubhouse. “Getting outs in the zone. Once I started doing that more, that helped me at the higher levels of getting guys out in the zone instead of trying to get guys to chas all the time. I threw a lot of strikes and trusted my stuff.”

Whitley has hit 98 mph with his four-seam fastball, and while he’s scrapped his sinker the four-seamer has movement on it and some clear deception. He offset the fastball with a sharp slider and a trapdoor changeup. He does pitch up in the zone, and yet he has allowed only five home runs in 156 2/3 innings as a pro. He’s got a classic mix for a reliever, which he’s been mostly in the minors to accelerate his climb. “Whitley is a big-armed … righthander who looks the part of a major league reliever,” asserts Baseball America. “He has the stuff and steady demeanor to pitch in high-leverage relief.”

ETA: Assuredly, 2020.

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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