Why Karsten Whitson Might Be the Red Sox Best Draft Pick

karsten whitsonOn day three of the MLB draft the Boston Red Sox made ripples when they drafted Karsten Whitson in the 11th around. Whitson, 22, was drafted ninth overall in the 2010 MLB draft by the San Diego Padres. He turned down a $2.1 million signing bonus in order to go to the University of Florida, a.k.a. the Florida Gators. This came after he went to their training facility and felt as though he was not physically ready for professional career. Whitson could have the highest upside out of every single Boston pick this year.

As a freshman Whitson was one thing and one thing only— dominant. As a true freshman he boasted a 2.40 ERA in 19 starts while racking up 92 strikeouts to just 28 walks in 97 1/3 innings pitched. After putting up a 3.51 ERA as a sophomore, Whitson headed to the prestigious Cape Cod week to play for the Orleans Firebirds. After pitching in just two games in relief he was done for the summer. Originally thought to just be shoulder fatigue, he ended up needing to go under the knife for shoulder surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews. Thankfully there was no rotator cuff or labrum damage and he was ready to pitch in the 2014 season after sitting out in 2013. In the 2013 MLB draft Whitson was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 37th round, but nothing came of it. This season, he faced some command problems walking 23 hitters while fanning just 21, despite posting a 3.86 ERA and 14 appearances nine of which were starts. Still though, this is great after missing a whole year for him to come back and pitch as well as he did.

Despite not pitching like the stud he may be this year, the potential is still there for him;Boston got a steal in the 11th round. This is especially good since Boston would not have received a penalty if they did not sign the medically-red shirted junior. Also, since Boston drafted high ceiling guys over high floor guys, they will be strapped for cash as far as signing bonuses go. Whitson is in a different category of slot bonus; in rounds 11 to 40 Boston has $100,000 to work with per pick. It is unclear what kind of a bonus he will receive, but expect it to be greater than the $100,000 slot mark and much less than the $2.1 million he turned down back in 2010. About $400-500k should do the trick since Whitson wants to sign with Boston.

As far as a scouting report goes Whitson has a fastball that sat comfortably at 90-92 at the beginning of the year, but as time went on and he built up arm strength, Whitson hit 96mph on the radar gun. He also has a solid slider which tops out at around 84mph and a changeup which can drop up to 15mph slower than his fastest fastball.

Overall, it appears as though Boston may have hit the jackpot once again. As Whitson pitches more and more and becomes comfortable throwing, it will be clear Boston made the right pick which will be arguably the best pick they made the entire draft.
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