In 2008, the New York Yankees drafted David Phelps in the 14th round out of Notre Dame. He's turned into a valuable major league pitcher, capable of use in multiple roles and certainly a steal at that point in the draft. In 2010, the Yankees drafted Chase Whitley in the 15th round out of Troy University. Like Phelps, Whitley didn't have much fanfare as a prospect, but he made his major league debut a few days ago and could wind up being much better than hundreds of guys drafted ahead of him.
Whitley was actually a two-way player at Troy University in Alabama, hitting .364/.464/.564 with 10 homers in 2010 while posting a 3.68 ERA with a 64/24 K/BB in 66 innings, collecting seven saves, when used on the mound. He was somewhat obscure but area scouts were quite familiar with him and his performance was enough to get him drafted in the 15th round.
The Yankees made him a full time pitcher and he's moved steadily and successfully through the organization. He was quite effective in A-ball in '11 (2.47 ERA, 77/29 K/BB in 92 innings) and maintained the momentum in the high minors, reaching Triple-A quickly and clocking in with solid campaigns in '12 (3.25 ERA, 66/25 K/BB in 80 innings) and '13 (3.06, 66/21 K/BB in 68 innings) in '13. You will note that despite his bullpen role he was often used in multiple inning outings.
The Yankees made him a full-time starter this year with great results: 2.39 ERA at Scranton, 32/7 K/BB in 26 innings over six starts. And here he is in the majors, throwing 4.2 shutout innings in his first start and with at least one more outing on the horizon.
Whitley is a 6-3. 215 pound right-hander born June 14, 1989. Like most players with two-way backgrounds, he's a good overall athlete. His fastball runs at 89-93 MPH, averaging around 91. It's not a blazer but it has some movement to it and he usually locates it well. Most minor league relievers have just one key secondary pitch but Whitley has two, featuring a solid slider and changeup. This diversity (along with his command) made him a good convert-to-starting candidate and so far it looks like a good decision.
Whitley is not going to be an ace, but I think he can be a valuable guy for a major league staff: a guy who can throw strikes with three solid pitches, keep his team in the game, and work out of the bullpen or in the rotation. David Phelps, Part Two, and a nice find in the 15th round.