Two organizations in similar places are the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Angels. Each are veteran-laced rosters with thin farm systems behind them.
But the Angels might be making a move in both departmemts, and the Giants took a chance on a high draft pick last July in hopes of doing the same.
Both were on display this week in San Jose.
Carson Whisenhunt, LHP — San Jose (A)
The 22-year-old Whisenhunt, a second-round pick last summer by the San Francisco Giants out of East Carolina, is a strike-throwing lefty with an average fastball, a projectable curveball, and a changeup that’s typically above-average to plus and has a chance to be a true wipeout pitch.
Facing the Los Angeles Angels’ Low-A affiliate Wednesday in San Jose, the southpaw was uneven with his control, walking three batters in four innings – two in the first inning – and surrendering a long solo home run to Denzer Guzman on a 3-2 fastball up in the zone, capping a three-run frame for the Inland Empire 66ers.
He was 90-93 mph early in this outing, but touched 94-95, and settled down with better command, allowing him to get to his curveball and changeup in favorable counts. Whisenhunt ended up inducing 10 swinging strikes, mixed well between his three pitches, the best of which was a handful of 60-grade changeups in the 82-84 mph range, and fastballs running away from right-handed batters. The curveball flashed above-average at 77-81 mph.
Whisenhunt finished with three scoreless innings, and ended up going four, yielding three runs on four hits and three bases on balls. He struck out five, and threw 62 pitches, 27 for strikes. His curveball was a real weapon for him, garnering called strikes and whiffs alike.
Fastball value is a key component for the Giants’ No. 10 prospect, and may determine whether he’s a No. 4 starter or a bullpen arm long term. He entered pro ball relying more on plane than movement, but showed some arm side run in this start, and after the first inning kept the pitch on the edges, repeating an athletic delivery and strong finish out front to generate some deception and arm speed consistency.
He has the weapon versus right-handed batters in the good changeup, but may have more issues versus left-handed hitters without consistent command of his fastball. It begs to wonder if a cutter or slider may be in order. His breaker, a hard curveball with depth and late break, is more of a downer and doesn’t have much tilt to run away from those that stand in the same-side batter’s box.
If the lefty can live at the top of his velocity range it may do wonders for his long-term projection, and his size and delivery support such a possibility.
Whisenhunt’s counterpart Wednesday was an Angels right-hander that couldn’t be much more different.
Jake Madden, RHP — Angels (A)
Madden, too, struggled with command, leaving fastballs over the plate too often early, yielding seven hits in 2.2 innings that required 74 pitches (45 strikes). But his raw stuff ticked up after a sideways first inning that saw him sit 89-92 mph with the fastball, showing some arm side run. He hit 95 a number of times in the second and third innings.
He didn’t miss a lot of bats (7), and fell behind consistently, limiting how often he could go to his slider and changeup, but the breaker flashed at 83-84 mph and missed a few sluggers with bad intentions.
Madden gets solid-not-great extension from his 6-foot-6, 185-pound frame and isn’t consistent staying in-line to the plate, but stays on top well creating fastball plane, which makes his heater difficult to lift.
He’s reached the upper-90s at times, so there’s more velocity to go get consistently. In addition, there’s still physical projection left, and he won’t turn 22 until late December.
In Tuesday’s tilt, 20-year-old right-hander Jorge Marcheco went five scoreless for the 66ers, coupling a solid-average fastball-slider combo with very good control of both. He flashed a changeup with good arm speed. He worked up in the zone effectively, inducing weak contact, allowing two hits, both singles. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out four in topping out at 93 mph.
Halos No. 14 prospect Nelson Rada, 17, has struggled to find traction in the Cal League where he’s more than four years younger than the average player and five years younger than the average pitcher he’s facing. He’s shown some plate discipline and average or better tools despite the slow start, but he’s just getting started from a physical maturation standpoint.
Guzman, LAA’s No. 10 prospect, showed quick hands a solid attack plan on fastballs, working a count to his favor and punishing a mistake from Whisenhunt in his first plate appearance Wednesday. He struggled a bit defensively in this one, but has a good arm to pair with zone judgment and bat speed. He’s just 19 himself, suggesting some swing and miss is expected, but that’s something to watch this season.
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