Whitenton helps St. Lucie win first-half title

The St. Lucie Mets had a dominant first half of the Florida State League season, winning the division title by 15 games over the second-place Jupiter Hammerheads. A former area standout was a big reason why.

Taylor Whitenton, a Heritage High School graduate, had an excellent first half on the mound for St. Lucie, a Single-A affiliate of the New York Mets.

The right-hander went 3-2 with a 2.93 ERA (just nine earned runs in 27 innings pitched) in helping St. Lucie go 48-17. Whitenton, who was a 40th-round selection (1,205th overall pick) by the Atlanta Braves in the 2007 Major League Baseball draft out of Heritage, then after a two-year stint at Darton Junior College in Albany, was a 39th round pick (1,184th overall pick) of the Mets in the 2009 draft, is in his fourth season in the organization.

The 6-3, 190-pounder had a fine season in 2011, compiling a 2.49 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 112 innings pitched for the Mets' Single-A affiliate in Savannah. Whitenton has continued to rely on the strikeout as he appeared in 20 games out of the bullpen and had 36 strikeouts during the first half.

St. Lucie completed its first series of the second half with Bradenton on this morning.