After a tremendous Yale career and successful tenure as captain this past season, infield stalwart Simon Whiteman ’19 was selected in the ninth round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the San Francisco Giants. He is the first player from the Ivy League taken and the first Yale player to be drafted since 2017.
The senior, who was a Rhodes Scholarship nominee, played 173 games for the Elis over the course of his career. In his time with the Bulldogs, Whiteman made over 700 at-bats, smacked over 200 hits and batted in 90 runs. This spring, he set career highs in batting average and stolen bases. He was the 256th pick in the draft.
“It’s a pretty surreal moment — one that every kid dreams of from the moment they step foot onto the little league field,” said Whiteman. “To get the frantic, quick phone call; to hear your name called on television; to see your name appear next to a professional organization’s…there aren’t words to describe the feeling. God is great.”
Whiteman burst into the Yale team in his first year, immediately making an impact. He started 47 of the team’s 48 games in 2016 and was solid at second base, contributing a team-high 22 double plays. He also hit two triples that year.
After that fast start, Whiteman was determined not to sink into a sophomore slump. He excelled in his second year for the Bulldogs and was named Second-Team All-Ivy. The Connecticut native hit an elite .316 batting average in Ivy contests, and he single-handedly willed the Yale team past Penn in the Ivy Championships with a critical 2–5 batting day.
In his penultimate year in New Haven, Whiteman kept on his upward trajectory. Making the switch from second base to shortstop on defense, he emerged offensively as the team leader in both at-bats and hits, stepping up to the plate 178 times and recording hits on 53 of those instances. Additionally, Whiteman led the Ivy League with 10 sacrifice bunts as he utilized his killer speed. He was again named Second Team All-Ivy at the conclusion of his junior year.
“I said before the draft that Simon was a top 10 round kid,” said head coach John Stuper to Yale Athletics. “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].”
As team captain his senior year, Whiteman took this leadership role to heart. He posted his best career batting average of .337 and also a career-high 17 doubles. His quick feet also helped him snatch an astounding 34 stolen bases, making him a headache for opposing pitchers when he was on base. From the infield, he turned 41 double plays and also tallied two triples, his first since his rookie year. Finally, for the third year in a row, Whiteman earned Second-Team All-Ivy honors.
Whiteman is the first Bulldog MLB draft pick in two years. In 2017, Yale had two players picked in the MLB Draft. The Houston Astros selected Richard Slenker ’17 in the 28th round and Harrison White ’17 went three picks later to the Miami Marlins. Prior to those two Elis, catcher Ryan Lavarnway ’09 went to the Boston Red Sox in the 6th round of the 2008 draft. Lavarnway continues to compete in the MLB organization for the Indianapolis Indians, the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Off the field, Whiteman has set himself apart in the classroom, graduating with a degree in chemical engineering degree a few weeks ago. He received the Delaney-Kiphuth Student-Athlete Distinction Award, which is awarded monthly to the male athlete with the highest grade point average. Whiteman was nominated for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship as well.
“Simon was the role model of the team this year but he’s always been a hard worker,” said pitcher Alex Stiegler ‘20. “Since he found himself in a leadership position, he made his work ethic the standard for the rest of us.”
Whiteman is the 39th Yale player to be selected in the MLB Draft.
Eamonn Smith | email@example.com .