Matt Whalen is 16, 6-feet-6-inches tall and throws up to 90 mph. Add in a curveball and a developing changeup and he is the defintion of upside for a baseball prospect.
Whalen, a senior at Valor Christian High in Highlands Ranch, Colo., recently gave Wichita State an oral commitment. He said he plans to sign in November.
Wichita State “is getting a power right-hander with an excellent fastball,” Valor Christian coach Keith Wahl said. “He is just getting into his physical prime. By the time they get done with him, he’ll throw in the mid 90s and be a high-round draft pick.”
Whalen, who weighs 200 pounds, did not pitch in the spring because of a stress fracture in his throwing elbow. He is pitching this summer for the Colorado Slammers.
“Everything is back to normal,” he said.
Wahl agrees. Other than control problems that he attributes to a lack of innings, Wahl sees the same promising pitcher from his sophomore season. The stress fracture, Wahl said, began to be an issue after his freshman summer. When doctors told him to rest, Whalen played soccer to improve his speed.
“He was so diligent and so disciplined in his rehabilitation,” Wahl said. “He came back and right away he's 88-90.”
Whalen said he also considered Santa Clara, Utah, New Mexico and Creighton. He visited WSU in mid-July. He liked new coach Todd Butler’s enthusiasm for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and his practice plans. Pitching coach Brent Kemnitz talked to him about the many Shockers pitching in the pro ranks. Eck Stadium made a good impression and it is now the display picture on his Twitter page.
“Coach Kemnitz has been there forever and has a great reputation for developing pitchers,” Whalen said. “It wasn’t too hard of a decision.”
Mike Whalen, Matt’s father, pitched in the minor leagues. His influence, Wahl said, will likely keep his son on the college track. Wahl said scouts from the Tigers and Braves are watching Whalen.
“I think Matt values an education,” Wahl said.
Whalen is the third known commitment from the class of 2014 for the Shockers. Andale-Garden Plain pitcher Tyler Jones and Edmond (Okla.) Deer Creek shortstop Jordan Boyer committed in mid-July.
Basketball pros— Former WSU basketball player Malcolm Armstead will play for Basketball Club Krka in Slovenia.
Armstead, a point guard, averaged 10.7 points and 4.0 assists for the Shockers last season. He started all 39 games and was named Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament’s West Regional.
Former Shocker Clevin Hannah said he is moving up to a team in France's Pro A League. Hannah, an All-Missouri Valley Conference pick in 2010, will play for SLUC Nancy Basket, located in Nancy. He played for Evreux of the Pro B League last season.
Braeuer returns to Texas — Former Shocker guard Matt Braeuer has been hired as an assistant coach at Sam Houston State.
Braeuer spent the past two seasons as video coordinator at Maryland under former WSU coach Mark Turgeon. He spent one season as an assistant Midland (Texas) College after two seasons as a graduate assistant on coach Gregg Marshall's staff at Wichita State.
Braeuer, who played at WSU from 2004-2008, is from Belton, Texas. He joins the staff of coach Jason Hooten.