Aaron James Whitefield
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 200 lb.
Whitefield was part of the MLB Australian Academy. He was signed by Minnesota Twins scout Howard Norsetter in 2015. With the GCL Twins that summer, he was 3 for 18 with two walks. He then hit .314/.324/.457 in 25 games for the Brisbane Bandits in the 2015-2016 Australian Baseball League. He was easily the youngest player on the Australian national team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in February 2016; he was two years and several months younger than Robbie Perkins, the next-youngest. He was part of a huge Twins contingent in the Sydney qualifiers as they sent seven players (fellow Aussies Logan Wade, Todd Van Steensel, Sam Gibbons and South Africans Callan Pearce and Rowan Ebersohn) when no other team had more than two. Whitefield made his debut for Australia in the bottom of the 8th of a 4-1 win over South Africa, batting for Luke Hughes and popping up against Lloyd Stevens. He stayed in at LF. In the finale, a 12-5 win over South Africa, he pinch-ran for Stefan Welch in the 7th and made it to third, but was stranded there. The Aussies won a spot in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
He hit .298/.370/.366 for the 2016 GCL Twins and stole 31 bases in 40 tries. He led the Gulf Coast League in swipes (four ahead of Luis Benitez), tied Dylan Carlson and Terrance Robertson for 8th in runs (30) and was 5th in average (between David Jacob and Juan Barriento). Even though he played in a short-season loop, he was still second in the Twins chain in swipes, behind Zack Granite.
In the 2016-2017 ABL, he hit .338/.379/.490 for Brisbane with 20 steals in 23 attempts, 34 runs in 39 games and error-free defense in center. He was second in average (.002 behind Mitch Dening), first in runs (one ahead of Wade), first in hits (53, 3 ahead of Dening), tied for third with 12 doubles and first in steals (three more than LeDarious Clark). The youngster took home the MVP. He then was with Australia for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
The next summer, he produced at a .262/.318/.414 clip for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, going 33-for-42 in steals and legging out six triples. He was 5th in the Midwest League in stolen bases (between Luis Rengifo and Daz Cameron) and second in the Twins chain (two shy of Tanner English). In the winter, he was at .292/.364/.425 while Brisbane repeated as titlists; he scored 25 runs in 30 games.
Whitefield had a rough year in 2018. He hit .211/.272/.272 in 65 games for the Fort Myers Miracle (he did steal 20 bases in 27 tries) and .250/.400/.313 in 5 games for the GCL Twins. Moving to the Adelaide Bite in the winter, he batted .253/.330/.392 in the 2018-2019 ABL. He did tie for 8th with 9 steals and score 27 runs in 40 games.
In '19, he struggled with Fort Myers (.220/.279/.328 in 81 G) and the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (.137/.174/.176 in 31 G); at least, he swiped 30 bags in 38 tries. He led the Twins chain in steals, 8 ahead of Gabriel Maciel and Royce Lewis. He then put on a show for Australia in the 2019 Premier 12, making numerous great catches in center. He robbed Cuba's Erisbel Arruebarruena in the 9th inning of what would have been a game-winning hit and Team USA's Connor Chatham of a shot in the gap in a 2-1 win as well as making a sliding grab to take a hit away from Japan's Yoshihiro Maru. He hit .250/.308/.333 and went 2-for-2 in steals in addition to his great defense. On a weak offensive Aussie team (.147/.194/.225, 10 R in 7 G), he led in hits and led the regulars in OPS. For the event, he tied Jo Adell, Seiya Suzuki, Shuta Tonosaki and Ha-seong Kim for 3rd in swipes, behind Ukyo Shuto and Min-woo Park.
He then dazzled in the 2019-2020 ABL at .376/.455/.528 with 28 runs and 23 steals (caught just twice) in 35 games. He tied Delmon Young for 8th in runs, led in steals (more than double runner-up Mikey Reynolds' 10) and was 4th in average (between Zach Wilson and Colin Willis). He won Defensive Player of the Year and also took home his second MVP; Tim Kennelly was the only other two-time MVP in the ABL's second incarnation to that point.
Despite his struggles in the minors in 2019, he got his shot in the majors in 2020, perhaps due to his strong winter and perhaps due to the expanded rosters allowing for specialized players; it was thought he would be used as a pinch-runner and defensive sub. He debuted as a pinch-runner for Eddie Rosario in a game against the Chicago White Sox on July 25th.
- 2016 Twins Media Guide
- Australian baseball League
- World Baseball Classic
- 2017 Baseball Almanac
- World Baseball and Softball Confederation