Forrest Whitley will surrender a run at some point in 2018. He just hasn't yet.
Houston's top prospect struck out seven and allowed two hits over four innings to lead Double-A Corpus Christi past San Antonio, 12-0, on Monday night at Nelson Wolff Stadium. Whitley has yet to allow a run in three starts since his return from a 50-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The victory clinched the Texas League South Division first-half title for the Hooks, who have won five straight and seven of eight.
Gameday box score
Whitley took the mound in the bottom of the first inning with a 3-0 lead and set the Missions down in order. He had to work a little harder in the second when Kyle Overstreet reached on a fielding error by third baseman Josh Rojas and Webster Rivas walked. But Whitley retired the next two batters to keep San Antonio off the scoreboard. Padres No. 13 prospect Josh Naylor singled with two outs in the third for the first hit against the right-hander, who surrendered a second knock to Rivas in the fourth.
Limited to roughly 85 pitches, Whitley used 81 to complete his four frames. MLB.com's No. 7 overall prospect hasn't pitched into the fifth inning this season, but it hasn't been for a lack of success. Whitley has struck out 39.1 percent of opposing batters he's faced this season, notching five, six and seven punchouts respectively in his three outings. The San Antonio native has limited the opposition to five hits in 43 at-bats (.116) while amassing an 18-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 12 innings.
Video: Corpus Christi's Whitley gets his seventh strikeout
"I'd love to be sitting in my office in September watching him pitch in the big leagues," Corpus Christi manager Omar Lopez told MiLB.com last week. "It's obviously not my call, but I really can't wait to see him up there. There's no doubt he's one of the best I've managed. ... His stuff is already plus and he commands the game so well. He's very mature for his age, and every time he steps on the mound, he can do something special.
"I just want to see him continue doing what he's done so far. He keeps his cool, he stays focused and locked in on what he needs to do to minimize the damage."
Alex Winkelman and Akeem Bostick scattered five hits over the final five innings to complete the Hooks' third shutout of the season.
Fresh off the two-homer game that wasn't Saturday night due the contest's cancellation, Yordan Alvarez went deep for a second straight game and finished with two hits while tying his season high with four RBIs. Houston's fourth-ranked prospect extended his hitting streak to 13 games, which extends back to April 25 due in part to a a month-long stint on the disabled list.
Chas McCormick doubled, singled and drove in three runs, Jamie Ritchie added three hits and two RBIs and Ryne Birk went 3-for-4 with one RBI for Corpus Christi.
Naylor had three hits and Rivas chipped in two for the Missions.
Video: Corpus Christi's Alvarez slams a three-run shot