St. Louis Cardinals prospect Kodi Whitley could be in the big leagues soon.
The St. Louis Cardinals seem to provide a never-ending supply of pitchers who emerge with little fanfare. The latest of that bunch could be Kodi Whitley.
Whitley, a graduate of The University of Mount Olive, a Division II college in North Carolina, pitched to mixed results in his time there. In 2014, he pitched to a respectable 2.86 ERA in 72.1 innings, although he only amassed 46 strikeouts. His control was very good, though, as he only walked 14 batters.
The next year, Whitley’s season was less consistent, with an ERA of 4.41. His hits allowed skyrocketed from 71 in 2014 to 104 in 2015 despite an increase of only 15.1 innings pitched. However, he did see a massive increase in strikeouts as well, with 88.
Whitley’s 2016 season never got off the ground, as he missed nearly all of it to recover from Tommy John surgery. Nevertheless, the Cardinals took a flier on him in the 27th round, and the results could be more than the team expected.
At 25, Whitley is older than some might think, but he has steadily progressed each year in the team’s farm system. He has kept his high strikeout rate and low walk rate, and he has also allowed very few home runs. He only gave up six homers in his 165.1 innings at Mount Olive, and he has surrendered five in 156.2 innings in the minor leagues.
In 2019, Whitley pitched across three levels of the minor leagues, advancing from Single-A to Triple-A and pitching to a sparkling ERA of 1.60 and striking out 78 in 67.1 innings. It seems Whitley is knocking on the door to be a part of the team’s bullpen in 2020.
The larger rosters than usual to start 2020 could benefit Whitley greatly. Rosters will be expanded to 30 players instead of the usual 26, and Whitley could very well make the team. The potential lack of Giovanny Gallegos for the start of the season because of issues boarding a flight to St. Louis could be the deciding factor.
Even if Whitley makes the team to start the season, the roster crunch after two weeks to 28 and dropping to the normal 26 after two more weeks could put Whitley back in the minor leagues for more seasoning. But as a 25-year-old, the time is now for Whitley to show what he can do.
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Fans shouldn’t overlook Whitley when it comes to sorting out the Cardinals’ bullpen. He is ready for a spot in The Show; the only question is whether the Cardinals will have a spot for him.