John Whittleman turned in his best season as a professional with Low-A Clinton in 2007, when he hit .320 with 20 doubles with 12 home runs in 231 at bats in the first half. He was selected as a Midwest League All-Star that year, and he also earned the honor of representing the Rangers in the MLB All-Star Futures Game, where he homered for the U.S. team.
Unfortunately, Whittleman began struggling shortly after that, and although he has at times looked ready to put everything together, he enters the 2011 season with a career line of .242/.353/.389 with 56 home runs and 153 doubles in 2476 at bats.
Originally drafted as a shortstop, Whittleman played third base for the first five years of his career. Though he worked hard at his defense, he remained error-prone, having never committed fewer than 26 errors in any of his four full season campaigns at the hot corner. In 2010, he was moved to first base, where he played exclusively throughout the season.
Last season, Whittleman appeared in 107 games between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco, hitting a combined .215/.333/.371 with 12 home runs and 20 doubles in 372 at bats. He seems likely to again repeat Double-A this season with the NW Arkansas Naturals, where the left-handed hitter could platoon with projected first baseman Jamie Romak, who bats right-handed. There is also some speculation that he could begin the season with High-A Wilmington.
At his best, Whittleman is a gap-to-gap hitter with excellent plate discipline and solid raw power. He looks fantastic in batting practice, and he clearly has talent, but that talent has yet to consistently translate into success in games. Perhaps a clean slate in a new organization might kick start a resurgence.