Joe Whitman sought an opportunity to play consistently at the college level after pitching 5 2/3 innings in his first two years at Purdue. The left-handed pitcher grew up about 20 minutes from Kent State and heard great reviews about the program and its coaching staff.
Transferring to Kent State allowed Whitman to gain experience and exposure. This spring, he capitalized on the opportunity, posting a 2.56 ERA with 100 strikeouts and 29 walks allowed in 81 innings.
Whitman’s quality three-pitch mix, potential and success in his junior season have caused him to receive a lot of attention in anticipation of July’s MLB draft. Scouts project the lefty as a likely early-round pick.
“It has been pretty cool,” Whitman said. “I never really expected this after the first two years I had in college. Just to really be able to let it sink in has been really cool, but I haven’t had a lot of time to think about it. There’s been a lot going on.”
Whitman is a 6-foot-5, 200-pound left-handed pitcher who throws a fastball, slider and changeup from a three-quarters arm slot. He has a quality pitch mix and consistently attacks the strike zone, causing scouts to project him as a starter in pro ball.
He relies mostly on his fastball, slider combination. His fastball is a quality pitch in the low-90s and touches 96 mph. It features riding action. He locates his fastball well and generates swings and misses with the offering.
Whitman’s slider is his best pitch. His low-80s sweeping slider displays quality movement and generates a ton of swings and misses. He can throw it early in the count for strikes and uses it as his primary strikeout pitch.
“Mentality on the mound is my biggest strength,” Whitman said. “I like to go after hitters and attack them with my best stuff and try to get them out as quickly as possible.”
As Whitman prepares for pro baseball, he aims to improve his changeup. He mainly throws his changeup against right-handed hitters. It flashes potential and features fading and sinking action.
The changeup is a work in progress for Whitman, as he hopes to develop more confidence and consistency.
“I would like to see growth on my changeup,” Whitman said. “I want to build the confidence with it and make it a pitch that hitters can fear.”
Whitman was the ace of Kent State’s pitching staff and earned Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year this spring. He helped lead Kent State to an impressive 42-16 record.
But the Golden Flashes lost in the conference tournament, failing to earn the NCAA Tournament automatic bid. The Golden Flashes were on the tournament bubble, seeking an at-large bid. They fell short of making their first tournament appearances since 2018, though.
Despite the ending, Whitman raves about his experience at Kent State and the development he made in his year in the program.
“It was a little disappointing,” Whitman said. “Everyone felt that we deserved a chance to make it into a regional. We felt like we could really make some noise in the tournament. But it’s tough having lost the conference tournament. We thought we had a shot.”
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for eight years. He has interviewed 433 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.