BERLIN- Former Stephen Decatur High School pitching standout David Whigham, who two weeks ago became what is believed to be the first ever from the Berlin school to sign a professional baseball contract, got promoted to a higher league last week and will now have the opportunity to show off his stuff before even more professional scouts.
In early July, Whigham signed on to play for the Herkimer Trailbusters in the historic New York State League, becoming just the first former Seahawk to earn a paycheck for playing professional baseball. Just two weeks into a stint with Herkimer, Whigham got promoted to a higher level independent league when he signed with the New Haven County Cutters in the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball, or the Can-Am League.
While Whigham would have gotten a considerable amount of exposure in front of professional scouts with Herkimer in the New York State League, the Can-Am League draws even bigger crowds and more and more scouts and should provide an opportunity for Whigham to get a look from some major league teams.
“I’ll be there tomorrow,” Whigham said on Monday. “The money’s not great, but it’s a great opportunity for me.”
Whigham said the Can-Am League has a reputation for being a dog eat dog league with all of the players hoping to get noticed by big league scouts. He said he is looking forward to the potential exposure and hopes to make the best of his opportunity.
“There are a lot of great players in the league including some former big leaguers,” he said. “You have to make the best of it. You can have a couple of great outings followed by a couple of not so great outings and you don’t get another look.”
Whigham, who dominated at times for Decatur during an outstanding high school career, went on the play at the next level, first at Guilford College in North Carolina before transferring to Virginia Wesleyan for his senior season. Whigham pitched in 14 games for the Marlins this spring, posting an impressive 2.00 earned run average while striking out 69 opposing hitters in 63 innings of work.
Opposing teams batted just .202 this season against Whigham, who was named Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Pitcher of the Week in April after throwing a complete game 8-1 win over Bridgewater, during which he allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out a career high 11 batters.
His outstanding season at Virginia Wesleyan earned Whigham a tryout for the New York State League, a professional independent league open to player who recently graduated from college. He pitched well in his tryouts with the league signed his first professional baseball contract with the Herkimer Trailbusters in early July.
Not long after signing with Herkimer, the New Haven County Cutters in the Can-Am League came along and offered him a contract and he reported to his new team this week. The Can-Am League has a long history of producing major league players over the years despite long intervals during which the league ceased playing.
The league was first founded in 1936 and enjoyed a nice run of success until World War II started and it was closed down for the duration of the war. It reformed in 1946 after the war and enjoyed another decade before shutting down in 1957 when its popularity waned with the advent of televised big league baseball.
After nearly 30 years, the Can-Am League got up and running again in 2004 and has drawn big crowds and major league scouts ever since. Whigham said this week his new team’s games draw crowds similar in size to those at Delmarva Shorebirds games, for example.