BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Ian Anderson and Garrett Whitley on the same field.
That explains the buzz surrounding today’s high school baseball game between Shenendehowa and Niskayuna. Anderson will pitch for the Plainsmen and Whitley will play center field for the Silver Warriors — and the two super prospects will face off in front of a crowd expected to include several dozen professional scouts.
“Everyone’s called,” is how Shenendehowa head coach Greg Christodulu described the attention for the game.
Bobby Krogh — a Troy native who is the lead scout in the Capital Region for Prep Baseball Report, a scouting service — estimated that as many as 60 scouts could be in attendance for today’s 4:15 p.m. contest at Shenendehowa. The chance to see Whitley hit against Anderson, Krogh said, is a must-watch event for anyone in his line of work in this area.
“I can’t remember — and I follow high school baseball in the area very closely — but I can’t remember there ever being this much hype around two players in the past 10 years,” Krogh said.
Early returns from this season’s action have bolstered the resumé of each player. A junior this season, Anderson has struck out 18 batters in 12 innings of work while compiling a 0.00 ERA. Whitley, a senior, has swatted two home runs and posted a .424 on-base percentage in seven games, while stealing eight bases and scoring 13 runs.
Anderson and Whitley are already committed to collegiate programs, and both are expected to play beyond the NCAA level. Whitley has signed to play for Wake Forest University, but he is projected to be drafted in the first two rounds of June’s Major League Baseball draft. Meanwhile, Prep Baseball Report ranks Anderson — a Vanderbilt University commit — as the No. 2 player in the state for the Class of 2016 and No. 9 in the nation.
In the Class of 2015, Prep Baseball Report has Whitley ranked No. 1 for New York and No. 15 in the nation. This season, Whitley has regularly had 15 to 25 professional scouts at his games, while others come to his practices. Through all the attention, Whitley said he has been unbothered.
“To be honest, I have to say I don’t feel too much pressure,” he said. “I just go out and play. It’s awesome knowing there are people excited to watch you play.”
Today, though, will be a challenge for Whitley.
“The tension now is that [Anderson] is a pretty doggone good pitcher and Garrett’s got to get the bat on the ball against him,” Niskayuna head coach John Furey said.
“[Anderson] is a step above — frankly, a couple steps above — that typical high school pitcher you see, especially in the Northeast,” said Whitley. “He throws harder, he has a better breaking ball and he’s intelligent on the mound.”
At showcase events, Whitley has handled pitches in the low 90s. Through this season’s first weeks, though, Whitley has likely not faced anyone throwing faster than the low 80s — and Anderson will be throwing his fastball anywhere from 88 to 90 mph today.
“If he gets up to 88 or 89, it will be interesting to see how Whitley handles that,” said Krogh. “There are a couple guys in the area that throw in the mid-80s — which is phenomenal for a high school baseball player, especially in the Northeast — but there aren’t many guys that get over the 85 mark. Whitley probably hasn’t seen that yet this year, but there’s no doubt he’s ready.”
The two studs squared off once last year. In that meeting, Whitley went 1-for-3 with a strikeout against Anderson, who tossed a complete-game shutout with seven strikeouts in a 4-0 Shenendehowa win.
This year, Anderson said he will be careful when facing Whitley.
“I feel like we can go after him,” Anderson said.
People in Krogh’s line of work are hoping the pitcher does just that. The chance to see Whitley swing his bat against Anderson’s best offerings is what has Krogh and Co. excited.
“I’ve seen both of them,” said Krogh. “This isn’t hype. They’re both the real deal.”
How they stack up:
Ian Anderson, Shenendehowa, Jr.
- Last year: 6-0, 0.42 ERA, 34 strikeouts in 33 innings
- This year: 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 18 strikeouts in 12 innings
- State class ranking: No. 2
- National class ranking: No. 9
- College commit: Vanderbilt University
Garrett Whitley, Niskayuna, Sr.
- Last year: .474 batting average, .569 on-base percentage, 2 home runs, 25 RBI (19 games)
- This year: .333 batting average, .424 on-base percentage, 2 home runs, 6 RBI (7 games)
- State class ranking: No. 1
- National class ranking: No. 15
- College commit: Wake Forest University
Rankings come from prepbaseballreport.com.