Every young baseball player dreams of what his professional debut will be like. And although it took a little longer to get there, David Whitehead's first start was just about as dreamlike as it gets.
"It was awesome," he said. "It was fantastic. It was a great day."
With his parents among the crowd on Father's Day at Susquehanna Bank Park, the Phillies prospect spun six hitless innings in his Minor League debut as short-season Williamsport coasted to an 8-2 victory over State College.
The 22-year-old right-hander was drafted in the 34th round in 2013 but sat out what would have been his first season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. While his debut followed a year-long rehab, Whitehead (1-0) was more comfortable than nervous, happy just to be back on the diamond.
"I talked to my dad a lot and we've both been there before, but obviously not on this stage. He said, '[You] just have to be confident, you're there for a reason' and 'Get the job done,'" Whitehead said. "He's been waiting just as long as I have. I'm glad I was able to play in front of him and that we did well."
Gaining confidence from his defense, the Ohio native limited the Spikes to walks in each of the first two frames before reeling off four perfect innings. While he wanted to return for the seventh to keep the no-hit bid alive, he knew that wasn't the best idea in his first start.
"[The coaches] were very cool about it. You have to take it for what it is; it was fun while it lasted," he said. "It was that time, with the [pitch] limit and everything since I just came back from surgery. It just had to happen. They were congratulating me."
While State College got a hit off reliever Frank Rivas with two outs in the seventh, Williamsport held on for Shawn Williams' first managerial win.
"Everyone played well, everyone was so happy," Whitehead said. "It was great."
State College starter Ian McKinney (0-1) matched zeros with Whitehead until the fourth, when Robinson Torres plated a run with a groundout and Sean McHugh lifted a sacrifice fly to give the Crosscutters a 2-0 lead. Williamsport sent 10 batters to the plate in a six-run sixth, with Jiandido Tromp delivering a two-run single.
Starting his second season, McKinney was charged with two runs on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts in five innings.