Port Charlotte, FL - Garrett Whitley is back at home on a baseball field.
Whitley was the Rays 1st round draft pick in 2015. Being part of an organization that covets its young talent, Whitley doesn’t shy away from the high expectation placed on him.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself just because I’m a perfectionist and I like to succeed,” said Whitley. “I like to succeed and I hate to fail. Some people either like or hate one or the other. I am both.
Whitley moved up a level in each of his first three seasons. As the 2018 season was set to begin, Whitley was poised for another jump…but then…adversity struck.
“It was the Saturday before we broke (spring training) camp – so six days before we broke camp and I was just diving for a ball in the 9th inning of a backfield spring training game and I just landed awkward,” said Whitley.
Whitley tore his labrum - Devastating news that halted a promising start to a promising career.
“When I got the news that I was going to lose my season I was really upset,” Whitley said. “I mean, I love baseball man. Obviously I have career aspirations and I want to move up as quickly as possible but besides that I just love playing.”
Sitting out an entire season put the game, and life, in perspective for Whitley – enjoy the process and take nothing for granted. That was especially important as he started the 2019 season at High-A Port Charlotte.
 “When I got back and I started off the season and I was struggling, it was hard,” said Whitley as he fought back tears. “But at the same time I was just happy to be playing.”
“One thing we have tried to stress with Garrett all along is just ‘let’s just stay the process; let’s not worry about these results or the batting average so much or the numbers that we’re putting up’,” said Stone Crabs manager Jeff Smith.  
As this season moved along for Whitley, the numbers have improved. His manager Jeff Smith sees a well-round player who loves every second on the field.
“The really good thing that I have seen is very instinctual in the outfield; very instinctual on the bases,” said Smith. “That takes time when you miss that time. He is back out there having fun, enjoying being out there and all of his tools are starting to come out.”
And that hunger to move up the minor league ladder is now at an all-time high.
“I mean, that’s what we’re here for man,” said Whitley with a smile. “We are trying to make it to the big leagues and we have all of our little goals along the way but that’s the big one.”
The big leagues are waiting for Garrett Whitley. While he is in a hurry to get there, he is still stopping to take in the process. The talented Rays prospect knows every day is a gift.