Right now, the only things casual baseball fans probably know about Chase Whitley are that he is a part of the New York Yankees farm system and that his name is sort of close to Chase Utley.
At the very least, they should (hopefully) know the latter.
But that all may change with the MLB trading deadline quickly approaching. According to the Scranton Times-Tribune's Donnie Collins, the interest throughout the league surrounding the Triple-A middle reliever is piquing:
I don't know what mid-level prospect the Cubs are eyeing. But I do know 5-6 scouts in last month have asked me about Chase Whitley.— Donnie Collins (@RailRidersTT) July 23, 2013
Collins goes on to say that he "wouldn't be surprised" if Whitley was a piece in a potential deal that sent the Chicago Cubs' Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees.
So who exactly is this guy that scouts are so enamored with?
Let's start with the basics.
Whitley, who attended Troy University after two seasons of junior college, never really considered himself a serious pitcher. In fact, even while he was closing at Troy during his junior year, he had the third-most at-bats on the team, hitting .364/.451/.564 to go with 10 home runs and 56 RBI.
Where do you see Chase Whitley in two years?
Still, he turned enough heads with his 3.68 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 66.0 innings to warrant a draft selection as a pitcher, as the Yankees took him in the 15th round of the 2010 draft.
Ever since, the big 6'3", 215-pound right-hander has quickly moved through the minors, never spending more than a full-season's worth at one level until Triple-A.
In 2012, he was moved to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after just two appearances with Double-A Trenton, becoming the first player of the Yankees' 2010 class to reach that level.
Here's a look at his production in the season-and-a-half with the Triple-A Yankees:
Baseball Reference and FanGraphs
And he's only getting better. After an uneven, injury-hindered June, Whitley has been downright unhittable, tossing 13.1 innings, giving up zero runs, four hits and six walks (0.75 WHIP) while striking out 14.
Whitley's best pitch is a changeup, and according to Collins, it is tremendous:
@Bama960 They love his change. One told me it's almost like three different pitches, because he can get it to move all over.— Donnie Collins (@RailRidersTT) July 23, 2013
The 24-year-old also possesses a fastball that gets into the 90s as well as a slider, and although he could easily help the middle of a major-league bullpen right now, he has closer potential.
You aren't going to find Whitley on many "top prospect" lists, but it's easy to see why scouts are compelled by the big, young, productive reliever who seems to be improving at a rapid pace.