Indians have claimed RHP Robert Whitenack off waivers from Cubs and optioned him to AA Akron. Herrmann (elbow) transferred to 60-day DL.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 3, 2013
The Cubs, if you recall, selected Hector Rondon from the Indians in the Rule 5 Draft this past winter; Rondon was one of the Indians' top prospects before the arm injuries started happening. Now Rondon is healthy, and the Cubs snapped him up when the Indians failed to protect him on the 40-man roster. Although the circumstances are slightly different, the Indians are doing to the Cubs what the Cubs did to the Indians.
Whitenack was drafted out of SUNY Old Westbury in 2009 (8th Round) and before he got injured, was shooting up the prospect rankings. He started off 2011 in the Florida State, then jumped to the Southern League (AA), being very effective with low-mid 90s sinking fastball and a slider. But he injured his elbow in June and had to have Tommy John surgery. Like Rondon, Whitenack came back towards the end of the 2012 season, but his stuff wasn't all the way back to what it was before the injury. The Cubs protected Whitenack on their 40-man roster, but after this spring they tried to get him through waivers. Perhaps the Cubs saw that his stuff still hadn't recovered, and figured that other scouts saw the same thing. Whitenack has the size that clubs like to see in starting pitching prospect, but again, the key is whether his stuff has recovered from Tommy John surgery.
The Indians optioned Whitenack to Akron, and should slot into the rotation there. Starting pitching at the upper levels is thin, and they can be patient with Whitenack, as he has several options remaining.