Karsten Whitson Scouting Report
More of 6’3″ and 220-225 pounds. Solid lower half foundation and plenty of upper hip and rear development in a power pitcher mold. He has wide shoulders and solid upper back development for age/pedigree. Strictly from a body stand point, he reminds me of Brandon Webb, but should be able to fill out and improve overall strength, may sit 235 pounds as a professional.
One of the first things to pop out is his methodical, slightly rigid, delivery. It is almost robotic and not a seamlessly fluid action to the plate.
His pre-loading arm action is not a deterrent, as he shows a clean break with a long arc. It can get ever so slightly elevated to parallel, but the high shoulder tilt keeps his path in a reasonable spot. He is clean and safe at toe touch, in an ideal path to transition cleanly through the zone. Again, it just looks rigid in the offering.
His stride is a bit short for my taste and leaves himself standing tall, even though his upper half and tuck are in-synchronization with the lower half, good soft landing. After toe touch, he pops up ever so slightly before release. This pop up works north and slightly back, while his arm is moving in a horizontal path to the plate, it can lead to him slinging the arm through the zone, as he starts to stiffen the knee bend. It is not uncommon for pitchers to ride up out of the squat, but having done so before releasing the pitch could pose some stress or cause quick fatigue on the arm as it may have to exert more force through the zone. This is something to monitor down the line, as Karsten has experienced arm trouble leading to him being shut down earlier this year.
Karsten gets a decent push from the lower half and his arm runs quick through the zone, sound tuck. He throws down the line and maintains a downhill approach, showing solid follow through. I would prefer to see a longer stride, better push with his rear, would like to see a better bend along with better arm extension that could help him blossom his overall game.
93-96 mph, saw him as high as 97 mph in spring, maintains 94-96 mph in the summer. Hides the ball extremely well and with speed it comes out lighting quick on the batter. His ability to get the last second reaction should maintain this offering as a swing/miss when he gets the batter thinking. He can have the high and early release where it will live up in the zone, notice it living higher in the stretch more often, where he typically does not get over as well consistently. 92-93 mph with nice arm side action on the 2S, good deception. The offering has more run than sink, the run can get very solid late action which should be an effective setup with his ability to hide the pitch until the last second.
- Grade 4S: 6.0 (6.5)
- Grade 2S: 5.0 (6.0)
Hard and okay shape with bite, can be a real potent swing and miss 85-86 mph, touching 88 mph in the spring, more or less has maintain this over the summer. He has used this pitch to attack the inside and sweep low/away, which is item to hold your hat on for a power pitcher. He has flashed sharp bite in the past and it can be a real hard action, so there is some growth in the offering down the line.
- Grade: 5.0 (6.0/7.0)
81-83 and high of 84 mph. Decent drop and fade is a bit inconsistent. It can come out a bit flat at times and rides a bit higher than ideal. Still gaining a feel of the offering, but should be at least average down the road. This will be the pitch that needs the most improvement to me. His fastball is very deceptive and even a decent offering will be effective off his power pitches. It flashes some above average ability with good arm side movement and his progression the two way action will be something to watch.
- Grade: 4.0 (5.0/5.5)
Command and Control:
I have to tie the two of these classes together, but the root issue will help both down the line. He is a power pitcher that slings it through the zone, the pitch has a life of its own and he may or may not know where it is going sometimes. Karsten can hit his spots at times, but it dances a bit right now and goes a little too much off the beaten path. I noticed that slight uplift, he does stand tall in the delivery, and maybe a slightly longer stride induces a better bend at the hips.. These are just some thoughts in my head that could the potential to improve his location, and ability to locate it. If he can improve both abilities, he could really shoot up his long term potential.
- Command Grade: 4.0 (5.0)
- Control Grade: 4.0 (5.0)
Karsten has done a tremendous job filling out over the years and looks the part of solid power pitcher. His arsenal has top of the rotation potential. He has the size and arm speed that can anchor most staffs. There are not many pitchers that can hide the ball effectively to produce swing and miss offerings and force hitters to stretch the zone in all counts. It will be his ability to turn the flash offerings into solid off speed secondary pitches, plus improving his location to really tap that massive potential he possesses that likely will dictate his role as he matures. Karsten has shown some durability issues and many circles are weary about his long term health on the arm, including myself. Catching him in relief, he shows that ability to shut down and can go that two innings in bulldog fashion, if something limits him as a starter. If all the cards fall in the right place, he could sit No. 1 on most staffs; he possesses that type of potential.
- OFP: 60 (68)
- Ceiling: Low No. 1, High No. 2
- Floor: Closer
- Likely: Power pitching No.3
- Projected: Round 1