Whitley (shoulder) said Monday that he received clearance for full baseball activities earlier in March, Ernest Hooper of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
After working hard to rehab a labrum injury that cost him all of the 2018 season, Whitley was rewarded Monday with the opportunity to play with the big club in the Rays' 4-2 exhibition loss to the Pirates. Whitley entered the game in right field in the seventh inning and later plated Emilio Bonifacio on a ninth-inning double. The 22-year-old will likely open the season at Low-A Bowling Green or High-A Charlotte.
Whitley underwent surgery to repair a torn right labrum and will miss the 2018 season, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Whitley was the Rays first-round pick in the 2015 draft and slashed .249/.362/.430 with 13 home runs in 358 at-bats for High-A Bowling Green last season, which included a troubling 34.1 percent strikeout rate. The 21-year-old will look to get back on track for the 2019 season.
Whitley (undisclosed) is back in action at Low-A Bowling Green. He is hitting .250/.329/.421 with two home runs and four steals (on five attempts) through 76 at-bats.
Whitley missed two weeks with an undisclosed ailment, but has four hits and four RBI in 10 at-bats since coming off the DL on May 19. His 36.5 percent strikeout rate and .395 BABIP point to some regression ahead, unless he can improve his approach.
Whitley finished the 2016 season with a .266/.356/.379 batting line in 65 games with Low-A Hudson Valley.
The Rays held Whitley back to start the year -- he didn't make his debut until June 17 -- and he struggled out of the gate, but the 19-year-old went on to hit .324/.400/.500 in August. Whitley, the 13th overall pick in the 2015 draft, flashed little power this season but drew walks at a 10 percent clip and his speed was as advertised (21-for-26 in stolen base attempts). He figures to advance to the High-A level at some point in 2017, if not to begin the campaign.
Whitley allowed two runs on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts across four innings in Sunday's start versus the Rangers.
Whitley made his first start on the final day of the regular season, and he displayed excellent control by throwing 72 percent of his pitches for strikes and keeping a good offense off balance. He saw limited run at the big league level during the latter half of September, but acquitted himself well with a 2.51 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 14.1 innings. Whitley had not tasted much success at this level before his latest stint, but may have earned himself an invite to spring training in 2017.