Hitting got a little bit tougher for most Texas League clubs on Saturday.
Houston promoted a pair of its top pitching prospects, Forrest Whitley and Cionel Perez, from Class A Advanced Buies Creek to Double-A Corpus Christi.
Whitley, a 19-year-old right-hander selected out of a San Antonio high school in the first round of last year's Draft, is ranked second in the Astros system and No. 40 overall. Saturday's marks his second promotion of 2017. After going 1-2 with a 4.82 ERA over 18 2/3 innings across two Rookie-level leagues in his debut season, he opened this year by going 2-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 67 strikeouts over 46 1/3 innings with Class A Quad Cities.
A jump to the Carolina League did little to slow him down. He fanned 50 and walked nine over 31 1/3 innings there, going 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA over seven games -- six starts.
"When I left the Midwest League, things were going pretty well, so I kept that thing going when I transitioned to here," the teenager said after setting a career high with 10 strikeouts on July 15.
Perez, who signed with the Astros last December after defecting from Cuba in May 2015, started the year on the River Bandits staff with Whitley. He was 4-3 with a 4.39 ERA over 12 games -- nine starts -- in the Midwest League, and better in the Carolina League. The 21-year-old left-hander went 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA over five games -- four starts. He's the No. 10 prospect in the Astros organization.
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The duo joins a team that's 22-25, five games behind the first-place San Antonio Missions in the Texas League South division. The Hooks rotation also features No. 46 overall prospect and 19-year-old righty Franklin Perez, who was promoted from the Buies Creek club in mid-July.