Davie’s Major League baseball players off to good start
Published 2:58 pm Monday, April 10, 2023
By Brian Pitts
When the San Francisco Giants released their minor league report with outlooks for their top 10 prospects entering the 2023 season, Carson Whisenhunt checked in at No. 8 on the list.
The 2019 Davie graduate is a 6-3 lefthanded starting pitcher. He was the 66th overall pick in the 2022 draft. He made four mound appearances in 2022 at the rookie league and Single-A levels, including three starts. Opponents only hit .207 against him, and in 7.2 innings, he walked one and struck out seven.
The Giants believe Whisenhunt, 22, has a major-league changeup right now. He reported to Low-A San Jose to begin the season.
“Carson has all the makings of being a guy who plays at multiple levels this year,” farm director Kyle Haines said.
“I’d say the biggest thing is I throw (the changeup) just like my fastball,” Whisenhunt said.
After struggling for most of the 2022 season for Kansas City, Whit Merrifield, who graduated from Davie in 2007, found his groove after getting traded to Toronto in August. He hit .281 in the final 44 games, including .400 in the final 18 games.
He started six of the first eight games in 2023. Batting anywhere from fifth to eighth in the order, he put together a five-game hitting streak in the first week or so of the season. He saw time at second base, left field and right field.
“I’m ready to play wherever,” Merrifield told reporters. “It’s like playing on an All-Star team. There’s potential damage all the way through the lineup.”
“He’s ready to roll,” Toronto manager John Schneider said. “He’s a gamer that brings such a unique piece to our lineup with his speed, contact ability and his defensive versatility. He’s gonna be a big part of what we are doing here.”
Merrifield was the face of the Royals for seven years. He was a two-time All-Star and a two-time American Legion stolen base leader. In 2018, he led the majors in hits and steals. In 2019, he broke the Royals’ hitting-streak record, a mark that George Brett held for almost 40 years. He set a Kansas City record for consecutive games played at 553. He was a constant in the leadoff spot.
On April 3, Merrifield was a visitor at Kauffman Stadium for the first time as the Blue Jays faced the Royals.
“All the teammates and people I got to share that clubhouse with, they’re still some of my best friends today,” Merrifield said.
Merrifield may not be an everyday player like he was from 2016-22, but Schneider says the 34-year-old veteran will play an important role on and off the field.
“Whit’s awesome in the clubhouse, a veteran leadership presence,” Schneider said. “He’s a guy that has been through the grind.”
Jeremy Walker experienced every little kid’s dream when he made his major league debut with the Atlanta Braves on July 26, 2019. He tossed a scoreless inning that night and did good work in 9.1 innings late in the season, striking out nine and compiling a 1.93 ERA.
But the 2013 Davie graduate faced enormous adversity after that shining moment. A shoulder labrum injury sidelined the righthand reliever for the entire 2020 season. In February of 2021, he was released from the Braves, who drafted Walker in the fifth round in 2016. Twelve days later, he signed a minor league contract with the Giants. Then he suffered a broken humerus bone in his right arm, forcing him to miss all of the 2021 season.
Last August, he was traded from the Giants to the Rays, who sent him to Triple-A Durham. He made 35 relief appearances in 2022 for the Giants/Rays organizations.
In November, Walker elected free agency, and a month later, he signed a minor league contract with the Phillies. On Jan. 24, the Phillies assigned the 6-5, 235-pounder to Lehigh Valley, the Triple-A affiliate of the Phillies in Allentown, Pa.
In his first two outings this season for the IronPigs, he gave up one run in five innings and faced just 18 batters, good for a 1.80 ERA.
“It’s been a crazy ride,” Walker told reporters near the end of the 2022 season. “But the goal is still there for me. Analytically, they think my pitches are really good. It’s just putting everything together. I see God’s hand in everything, so I’m just leaning on His promises. I’m healthy and I feel good. I praise God for that.”