Signing to play for a Major League baseball team is a recurring dream for almost all players who pick up a baseball, join a league, and learn the sport.
Simon Whiteman had those dreams fulfilled when the San Francisco Giants chose him with the ninth selection in the ninth round (266th overall) of the Major League Baseball draft Tuesday.
“There really aren’t words to describe the feeling of hearing your name called,” said Whiteman, team captain and shortstop at Yale University. “I’ve been fortunate with incredible coaching throughout my career. That’s not only assisted me in honing my skills, but also made coming to the field so enjoyable every day. I never wanted to leave — and not every college player can say that.”
For Yale head coach John Stuper — who has had 44 players sign professional contracts in his 27 seasons — Whiteman’s selection is the culmination of years of work.
“I said before the draft that Simon was a top 10 round kid,” Stuper reported on the Yale University Athletics Website. “I also said this is what happens when you combine a ‘once in a coaching career’ work ethic with the best infield instructor in the country [Yale associate head coach Tucker Frawley]. Comes to Yale as a good player with one great tool (speed), works his tail off and becomes a ninth-round pick.”
Whiteman was the first Ivy League player selected.
“To have played for four years with not one or two but three other draftees, is also an incredibly unique experience,” Whiteman said of joining Yale senior first baseman Griffen Dey (Detroit Tigers: 23rd, 682nd), senior right-handed pitcher Scott Politz (St. Louis Cardinals: 29th, 875th) and senior left-handed pitcher Kumar Nambiar (Oakland A’s: 34th, 1,034th). “These guys inspired me each-and-every day to maximize my potential and do the most to bring success back to our clubhouse.”
Whiteman starred for the Trumbull Post 141 American Legion baseball team. He played scholastically at Fairfield Prep.
This past season Whiteman led the Ivy League in stolen bases (34, without being caught), was second in the league in doubles (17), third in the league in runs (43) and fifth in the league in hits (63). His .337 batting average was second on the team, and his .388 on-base percentage and .465 slugging percentage were third. He committed only seven errors, posting a .966 fielding percentage.
“In the end, I’m back to starting over again,” Whiteman said. “It’s kind of like being a freshman all over — but this time I get to devote everything to baseball, with no classes or extra distractions around. I’m excited to see not only where I go but what I can make of myself. And in the end, doing the most to do that is all I can expect of myself.”
Whiteman, winner of the Willliam Neely Mallory Award as the top senior male athlete at Yale, is tied for second on Yale’s career hits list with 213. His 71 career steals place him third and his 135 runs scored were four away from the Yale career record. He helped the Bulldogs win back-to-back Ivy League Championships (2017 and 2018) and earn a pair of wins in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
A chemical engineering major, he is a two-time first team CoSIDA Academic All-American. Whiteman also earned Yale’s DeLaney Kiphuth Student-Athlete Distinction Award last month as the senior male student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average.
The last time Yale had any players selected in the MLB draft was 2017, when Richard Slenker ’17 was picked in the 28th round by the Houston Astros and Harrison White ’17 was selected in the 31st round by the Miami Marlins.
The Bulldogs have one alum playing Minor League Baseball right now — catcher Ryan Lavarnway ’09, who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 draft by the Boston Red Sox. He now plays in the New York Yankees organization.