Profile: RHP - 6'3" - 200lbs -BT:R - TH:R - 2011 Age: 23
• FB4 92-94: Straight but average/plus command. (45-55)
• FB2 90-92: Very heavy sink, average command. (60-65)
• SP 85-87: Good depth, solid command. (60-70)
• SL 83-85: Still too loopy, big slurvy break. (40-60)
The Indians 2009 first round pick out of the University of North Carolina, White came out of college with an intriguing mix of well polished pitches that many thought would enable him to advance quickly. Negotiations with the Indians would drag on through the summer and White would eventually sign for 2.25m, meaning he didn't make his professional debut until 2010. The Indians chose to have him make his debut with their Advanced A Kingston team but advanced him to their AA Akron squad after just eight starts.
The big downside with White, in my opinion, is his mechanics. His arm motion is too long and he overloads his shoulder on negative L-Load causing a lot of stress on his shoulder. We call the position an inverted/upside down W. Pitchers who get their elbows up over the plane of their shouder almost always end up having elbow problems in their future. Francisco Liriano does this as well, and it likely helped lead to his elbow injury. Further adding to White injury risk is the fact that he throws a splitter as his primary breaking pitch. That too adds a ton of stress to his elbow.
I'm worried his a Tommy John case waiting to happen.
As far as stuff is concerned, White could probably pitch in a Major League bullpen right now. He commands his fastballs well enough and his two-seamer should play anywhere given it's heavy sink. He still needs to become more consistent within the zone with his fastballs as his it should be able to generate much higher ground ball rates than we saw from him in 2010. The reason it didn't is because he tends to miss up with the pitch where it will flatten out some. When he keeps that two seamer down however, it really dives and hitters have a very hard time squaring it up.
As mentioned above, he relies on a split-finger fastball as his primary off-speed pitch and it's a good one, especially when he sets it up with his four seam fastball. That added velocity difference, combined with the fact that both look the exact same coming in makes it a very good strikeout pitch. His slider, which I expected to take a big step forward this year, hasn't. It's still too slurvy, allowing MLB hitters extra time to see it. He might be able to use it to back-door lefties, but it's not a pitch he wants to allow to get into the zone until he tightens up the rotation.
White breezed through the Carolina League with relative ease, posting a strong K rate, acceptable BB rate, and good GB rates. The K rate dropped as he moved up to AA, but the walk and ground ball rates both improved quite a bit. He still looks solidly above average in all regards, but stands out in regard to his AA ground ball rate, which was quite strong.
His ability to miss bats and limit walks are both closer to average than plus, but his ground ball rates are strong. He could play up in a bullpen where he can ratchet the velocity up by a mph or two, but he could make a bigger impact as a #3, borderline #2 starter. Generally I never recommend a transition to the bullpen, but given his injury risk I might move him there anyways.
Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.