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Published On: Sat, Jul 1st, 2017

Former SIU star makes his pitch for the Yankees

Chad Whitmer didn’t follow a straight line to stardom.

Whitmer was a middle relief pitcher at Southern Illinois University whom head coach Ken Henderson described as doing a good job but nothing special in the beginning.

But that all changed during a game his sophomore year.

In a series against Dallas Baptist University (DBU), SIU’s top pitcher had to miss a game due to a sore arm, and Henderson looked to the bullpen for someone to fill the gap. He asked Whitmer to take the mound against DBU’s No. 1 pitcher.

“We just decided to put Chad in there, and he was throwing against the other team’s top pitcher,” Henderson said. “He was like a different guy. It was amazing, I was thinking, ‘Where’d this guy come from?’ Finding the right role for him was important. He just took off from that part.”

Whitmer became SIU’s No. 1 pitcher and finished his career ranked eighth in team history with 244 strikeouts. He was selected in the 10th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees.

Henderson said Whitmer has the skills to make him a success.

“First and foremost, it’s his ability to pitch,” Henderson said. “That’s kind of a lost art. Everybody is so worried about velocity, and here is a guy who just has phenomenal command … He has a feel for pitching, and that’s really the best way I can put it.”

Whitmer, a South Bend, Indiana, native, told the South Bend Tribune that finding out that the Yankees drafted him was a unique experience.

“It was just unreal,” Whitmer said. “It’s a very humbling experience. Nothing I’ve ever felt before.”

Whitmer is in Tampa, Florida, playing in the Gulf Coast League, a short-season league for newly drafted prospects. Whitmer told the Tribune that for now, he isn’t sure whether he will be a starter or come out of the bullpen.

“It’s impossible to say how he’s going to do, but I think he can hold his own,” Henderson said. “I think he is mentally tough enough and his work ethic is good enough to handle that. But I think he can pitch for a long time if he stays healthy and does what he’s capable of.”

About the Author

- Colby Applegate is an occasional contributor to Heartland Newsfeed. Applegate, under his pen name CJ Blaze, is a former contributing writer to New Age Wrestling, WWE News, TNAMecca and Wrestling News World. Applegate is currently attending Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL pursuing a degree in creative writing and is a contributing writer for GFW Examiner. Contact email:

Former SIU star makes his pitch for the Yankees