Whitley unhittable in Buies Creek debut

Houston's No. 5 prospect fans career-best nine over five frames

Forrest Whitley's fastball can get up to 97 mph and scores a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale. (Jarrett Ozimek/Buies Creek Astros)

By Josh Jackson / MiLB.com | July 4, 2017 3:27 AM

Ready to get to work at a new level Monday night, Forrest Whitley was greeted by familiar circumstances.

"I'm not kidding you: In Quad Cities, something like 60 percent of my starts were in rain delays," the Houston's No. 5 prospect said. "Then I get here, and, of course, it's a rain delay."

After waiting 73 minutes, Whitley turned in five hitless innings with a career-high with nine strikeouts as Class A Advanced Buies Creek blanked visiting Potomac, 6-0.

Gameday box score

"I was really happy with tonight. I was pretty jittery," he said. "I don't really remember the first inning. I was pretty amped up -- happy be here, and the adrenaline was going. After I was able to get the first guy out, I calmed down a little bit. I was happy I was able to be efficient, getting guys out in four or five pitches or less, and I hope I can keep it going this way."

The 19-year-old right-hander, selected 17th overall by Houston in last year's Draft, went 1-2 with a 4.82 ERA and 26 strikeouts over 18 2/3 innings across two Rookie-level leagues in his first crack at pro ball. In the Midwest League this year, MLB.com's No. 71 overall prospect was 2-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 67 punchouts over 46 1/3 innings. 

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Working with a fastball, a slider, a changeup, a curveball and a cutter, Whitley whiffed three of the first five Carolina League hitters faced and continued to pile up the strikeouts.

"I just attribute that to getting to 0-2 a lot and my put-away pitches were working," he said. "I was getting a lot of swing-and-miss, and I was able to read the hitters a little bit. That translated over from my experience in the Midwest League."

The P-Nats struck Whitley as more polished in some ways, though, than the competition he faced earlier this year.

"I could kind of tell the hitters were a little more patient," the San Antonio, Texas native said. "I threw a couple good pitches they didn't swing at, and they were timing me pretty well the second time through the lineup. I was able to change speeds, and able to go through all five."

In fact, he was perfect into the fifth, having struck out the first two batters before D.K. Carey drew a five-pitch walk --- the only free pass Whitley allowed.

"[I was] absolutely annoyed with that," he said. "It was a questionable call, but I didn't really learn it was actually a strike until I got back to the dugout. That's going to happen. I'm just going to try to make sure to keep them down."

At that point, Whitley had tossed 48 of his 70 pitches for strikes.

"I knew that was it," he said. "I knew I had a pretty shallow pitch count, so I was doing my best to be efficient."

Fellow righty Justin Ferrell took over, and he scattered three hits and a walk while striking out four over three innings to earn his second save.

No. 28 Houston prospect Stephen Wrenn belted his second homer since being promoted to the Carolina League on May 30.

Victor Robles, the top Washington prospect and fifth overall, went 2-for-4 to improve to .296/.384/.514.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @JoshJacksonMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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