Forrest Whitley decided to bring the hard-working approach that made him so successful in the Midwest League to the Carolina League.
Through three starts, the Astros' No. 5 prospect is reaping the fruits of his labor.
Whitley fanned a career-high 10 over 5 2/3 scoreless innings as Class A Advanced Buies Creek topped Frederick, 6-2, on Saturday at Jim Perry Stadium. The 2016 first-round pick scattered three hits and walked one during the longest outing of his career.
Gameday box score
"I felt good about it. It was one of those starts where obviously things went well, but I made big strides with things I've been working on," the right-hander said. "So, I'm pretty happy all around."
MLB.com's No. 71 overall prospect was promoted on July 2 after compiling a 2.91 ERA and 1.36 WHIP with 67 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings with Class A Quad Cities. In three starts with his new club, Whitley (2-0) sports a 0.57 ERA with 24 strikeouts and two walks over 15 2/3 frames.
The San Antonio, Texas, native believes he's found the right formula for continued success.
"The biggest thing I've been working on is getting the slider back as a solid plus pitch," Whitley said. "I think I made really big strides with that tonight. I just got to get back on it next outing. ... When I left the Midwest League, things were going pretty well, so I kept that thing going when I transitioned to here. I plan to just keep doing that."
The 19-year-old has also quickly developed a good relationship with catcher Jake Rogers, Houston's No. 21 prospect.
"I'm really comfortable with Jake behind the plate. He really knows what he's doing," Whitley said. "He's really smart behind there, he reads guys' swings and he's a great receiver -- I'm extra confident when he's back there. He's also a good hitter, scores runs, steals bags. He's a plus-plus guy all around."
Using his entire repertoire, Whitley fanned five of the first seven batters. He continually got ahead and threw 60 of 98 pitches for strikes.
Frederick had some traffic on the bases in the third when Armando Araiza led off with a walk and Jay Gonzalez reached on a one-out double. With two runners in scoring position, Whitley fanned Ademar Rifaela before getting No. 24 Orioles prospect Randolph Gassaway to fly out to center.
"As soon as those guys got on, I tried to limit the thinking and throw pitches and not try to do too much," the 6-foot-7, 240-pound hurler said. "Just do what you do what you do regularly, and that's exactly what I did to get out of it."
Whitley retired the next seven batters before Rifaela laced a one-out single in the sixth. The high school product then got Gassaway to pop up to Rogers to close the book on his night. Whitley was limited by a pitch count, but was more than satisfied with his outing.
"That's the mentality. You always want to finish the inning, but I understand the organization's policies and plan for me," he said. "Didn't complain too much, gave [manager] Omar [Lopez] the ball happily, and I was done. ... That's a huge confidence-booster, hopefully it can translate into the seventh, eighth and ninth innings later on down the road when the pitch limit goes up a little bit."
Taylor Jones had three hits, including a triple, and three RBIs, while Rogers and Myles Straw also collected three hits apiece for Buies Creek.