(not actually a ballad, but feel free to put it to music)
The Cardinals drafted Brady Whalen in the 12th round in the 2016 draft as a SS out of high school in Union, WA. Union is a "census designated area" on the coast of Puget Sound. It is on the west coast of the sound across from Tacoma and Seattle. I haven’t been to Union, but if it isn’t beautiful, I’d be shocked.
Whalen was 6’4" 180# at the draft. Born 1/15/98, he was 18 when the Cards picked him. The Cards sent him to the gulf coast league for 2016. According to Google Maps’ shortest drive time, Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter is 3,279 miles from Union, WA. Whalen moved to third based and struggled in the Gulf Coast League.
2017, Whalen played at Rookie League Johnson City in the Appalachian League. This was his age 19 year. He had a batting line 9% above average with good BB and K rates. The average age for the league was 20.3.
2018, Whalen, now 20, moved up to State College of the NY-Penn League, at the "A minus" level. The average age of the league was 21. Whalen had a 111 wRC+ (not park adjusted) and had good K and BB rates, including walking over 14% of the time. In 2018, Whalen became a full time first baseman. Whalen wasn’t flying through the low minors, but he was progressing fine. He had a good batting eye and power potential, especially considering his size.
2019, Whalen moved up to A ball in Peoria at 21, basically average for the league. He was a slightly above average hitter, 5-10%. He only had 38 extra base hits in 435 ABs. This was not a great year, but it wasn’t a flop. The club had little going on at 1B in the minors. Luken Baker was 22 and in A+. Above Baker were Nogowski, Ravelo, Kirtley, Chinea, etc.
2020 – no minor league baseball aside from contracting teams.
2021, now 23, Whalen returned to Peoria, which was now the A+ affiliate. He opened the season and hit about the same overall. However, he walked less and had more power, but the league improved as well. He went on the injured list in July. This was not the season Whalen really was looking for. After the injury, Whalen went to the complex to get up to game speed. Then he finished the last couple weeks in A ball in Palm Beach. He didn’t hit well at either level.
2022, Whalen was now 24 and had yet to get any traction. First base was also more crowded in the system now. Baker, Yepez, Burleson, Redmond, and Lott were ahead of him. New additions Osvaldo Tovalin, Jacob Buchberger, and Thomas Francisco were in the mix. Whalen didn’t have a clear place to fit in. 2022 would also be his 6th in the system, so minor league free aency loomed.
When Whalen started in A ball, he had to be nervous. Fortunately, for 200 Pas there, he hit well, a 146 wRC+ that likely was at least 150 if adjusted for park. In July he returned to A+ in Peoria. He got 98 Pas and he hit well, 117 wRC+, likely at least a 120 if adjusted for park.
On 8/4/22, Whalen, in his age 24 season, debuted at AA in Springfield. This was Whalen’s chance to show his improvement was real while making the minor leagues’ biggest jump. In 82 Pas, he’s hit well, likely the same as he did in A+, given park adjustments.
This season, Whalen has slashed his K rates. His walk rates have fallen too, but his power has increased. His approach is working pretty well. I can’t say that Whalen has become a prospect again. He is 24 and just barely in AA. He will be a free agent at the end of the season.
I’ve really enjoyed Brady Whalen’s season. I hope he makes it. He’s been a cardinal for a long time, and he has progressed. I really don’t see much opportunity for him with the Cardinals, but I hope he catches on somewhere and eventually makes the majors.
Brady Whalen was once an under the radar prospect, but then he never became a full prospect. Nobody following the general minors pays him any attention. He’s been a Cardinal for 6 years now, and he faces a crossroads after the season. Here’s to Brady Whalen.