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Dax Whitney is an up-and-coming candidate from Idaho

Across the country, professional baseball scouts are meticulously combing cities in search of hidden talent ahead of the upcoming MLB Draft.

Among those prospects is Dax Whitney, a right-handed pitcher and high school senior from the picturesque town of Blackfoot, Idaho, which has a population of about 13,000. With each impressive performance, Whitney is steadily climbing up draft boards and becoming a sought-after candidate for talent evaluators this spring.

Scouts expect Whitney to be selected as a potential first-round pick in the July draft. Since Rocky Mountain High School outfielder Mason Smith was drafted in the fourth round out of Idaho in 2013, no player from a high school or college in the state has been drafted in the first five rounds.

“I just rely on all the work I’ve done,” Whitney said. “I know all these people in the stands come to my games, but I just rely on what I've done in the past to go out and perform. I managed well not to let the scouts get to me. They’re here for a reason, so I just have to show them why they should be here and that I’m good enough to be on their team.”

Whitney is a 6-foot, 195-pound right-handed pitcher who throws a four-seam fastball, curveball, slider and changeup from a short and quick arm movement, an over-the-top arm slot and an athletic delivery. His performance also provides plenty of deception.

Whitney's fastball creates really good vertical upward motion and has reached 96 miles per hour this spring. He controls the pitch well and creates numerous swings and misses with the pitch.

The right-hander's 12-to-6 curveball plays well with his fastball. It's a high-70s pitch that he uses to land a strike early in the count and as a put-away pitch. His slider started out as a cutter before evolving into a big, swinging breaking pitch. It is a strikeout pitch with a speed of 84-87 mph.

Scouts rave about Whitney's size, pitch mix and overall potential and believe he has the tools to become a starting pitcher in pro ball.

“One of my biggest strengths this season has been my control,” Whitney said. “Another big thing is that I hide the ball behind my body really well. Batters see the ball late, and because of the speed, I think the ball comes to them faster than it would if it were thrown by a pitcher who doesn't throw as hard.”

Whitney has a lot of potential. Scouts rave about his benefits as Whitney matures and refines his skills.

One area Whitney continues to focus on is his transition. Right now, his split changeup shows potential, but it's an area he wants to refine. He wants to develop more consistency and self-confidence in transition. He sometimes tries to be subtle with his changeup and aim it. When he does that, his changeup isn't as effective as if he just grabbed it and threw it like a fastball.

“I don’t throw too much,” Whitney said. “It's still in the development phase when it comes to getting comfortable with the grip and the release point. That’s my biggest focus right now and I’m trying to continue to develop the change because it will give me a big advantage.”

Whitney has made remarkable progress throughout his career at Blackfoot High School. He describes himself as a late bloomer, as he was 1.70 meters tall and weighed 65 kilograms as a freshman. The physical strides helped him on the mound. It helped him gain recruiting interest and eventually get noticed.

Whitney didn't do many large showcase events throughout high school. Instead, he spent his summers playing with his American Legion baseball team, the Idaho Falls Bandits. He credits the team's coach, Ryan Alexander, for helping him develop into a top prospect with a bright future, whether he goes straight into pro ball or fulfills his college commitment.

In addition to his status as a top draft prospect, Whitney is also an Oregon State player. Oregon State is a premier program in college baseball with a track record of national success and producing talent for professional ball.

“I loved the place. They don't just care about their facilities or all the equipment. That’s what I love about it and what makes it special,” Whitney said. “They are there and want you to come because you want to come. Because of what they have, they don't want you to come. You want people to come win national championships and that's exactly my mentality. That played a big role and the coaches were so down to earth. I felt so at home and knew there was no other place I wanted to be.”

For more in-depth stories on the top 2024 MLB Draft prospects, visit Baseball Prospect Journal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1V2UELLlPXUo

Video by Dax Whitney.

Dan Zielinski III has been covering the MLB Draft for nine years. He interviewed 518 top draft prospects during that period, including four No. 1 overall wins. Several publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have cited his work while was published on Radio stations as an “MLB Draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @Dan Zielinski3.

Anna Harden

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