Whisenhunt wows in all-star futures game; James a top high school prospect

Published 7:25 am Monday, July 10, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Carson Whisenhunt traveled to Seattle to participate in the 2023 All-Star Futures Game on July 8, and he brought his plus-plus changeup with him.

The top prospects in the minor leagues played against one another at T-Mobile Park in a seven-inning game. Whisenhunt, a member of the San Francisco organization and the Giants’ lone representative in Seattle, and the National League beat the American League 5-0.

Whisenhunt appeared in the bottom of the third inning. His first batter was Jonatan Clase, the Mariners’ No. 9 prospect according to Baseball America. Whisenhunt struck him out in four pitches. The next batter was Jackson Holliday, the No. 2 overall prospect by Baseball America. The Big Whiz – gulp – struck him out, too. He got Clase and Holliday with his breathtaking changeup.

Heston Kjerstad, BA’s No. 73 overall prospect, hit a groundball single to right, but Whisenhunt retired the next batter, No. 78 overall prospect Edgar Quero, with a grounder.

When Whisenhunt had two strikes on the Orioles’ Holliday, catcher Jeferson Quero (Brewers) called for the curveball. Whisenhunt shook him off, threw the changeup and wound up retiring the side in a mere 10 pitches.

Whisenhunt’s fastball averaged 95.3 mph, peaking at 96.3, but the change is his bread-and-butter pitch.

“The changeup’s my go-to, so I threw that to the lefties and righties,” Whisenhunt, a 6-3, 209-pound lefty from Advance, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Any lefthanded pitcher who can throw a left-on-left changeup is good,” Holliday said. “He had good stuff, good stuff, good curveball. Obviously, he got the better hand, but I enjoyed it. Yeah, he’s a pretty good pitcher.”

Wrenzie Regodon, a SF Giants prospects writer, wrote: “There are three key ways to have a nasty changeup: velocity difference, movement difference and convincing arm speed. (Whisenhunt) has all three. His changeup has a 13-mph difference with his fastball, around 18 inches of difference in drop and has a consistent tempo on the mound.”

In 2023, Whisenhunt has zoomed from Low-A San Jose (four games) to High-A Eugene (six games) to Double-A Richmond. At the A-ball levels, the 22-year-old was insanely good (2.08 ERA, 56 strikeouts in 39 innings), and he was brilliant in his Double-A debut.

“A lot of adapting, but a pretty good experience so far,” Whisenhunt said.

His last three starts for Richmond haven’t been great. While he has racked up 19 Ks in 12.2 innings over four starts, he has a 4.97 ERA with 10 walks and 11 hits allowed for the Flying Squirrels.

But how many pro athletes don’t experience ups and downs? Very few. The outing in Seattle was just what the doctor ordered for Whisenhunt.

“I haven’t been feeling my best,” he said. “Stuff hasn’t been the way it was at the start of the season, so trying to get back to where I was at. It’s been a grind recently. Everything’s been a little sore, a little tight here and there. I was trying to get my velocity back to where it was. Today was a lot better (as he hit 96.3 mph twice). That’s where I was before. Just getting my feel back.”

James Tourney MVP

Coy James, a rising junior at Davie and one of the top ranked high school baseball players in the Class of 2025, is hitting around .600 through 36 at-bats for the Canes National 16U team. It’s what he does.

The Canes recently traveled to Hoover, Al., for the fourth-annual 16U National Elite Championship. They went 8-0 and James earned tournament MVP.

“I’ve been in the gym a lot,” James said. “I go to the gym five days a week just trying to build strength. My dad (Matt) and I go to the field every day and take swings.”

James has committed to Ole Miss. Why the Rebels?

“The coaching staff, the facilities, the campus, the fan base – just everything about Ole Miss is great,” he said.