Forrest Whitley is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2019 season. The first steps on that road to redemption will come in West Palm Beach, Florida.The Astros extended non-roster invites to Major League Spring Training camp to their top prospect and 18 others on Tuesday.
Forrest Whitley is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2019 season. The first steps on that road to redemption will come in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The Astros extended non-roster invites to Major League Spring Training camp to their top prospect and 18 others on Tuesday.
Whitley entered the 2019 season on the precipice of the Majors but struggled at Triple-A Round Rock. The 6-foot-7 right-hander posted a 12.21 ERA and 2.05 WHIP with 29 strikeouts and 15 walks in 24 1/3 innings. He was placed on the injured list in late May with shoulder inflammation before eventually returning to make rehab stints in the Gulf Coast and Carolina Leagues. Whitley ended the season with six starts for Double-A Corpus Christi, where he had a 5.56 ERA, 36 K's and 19 free passes in 22 2/3 frames.
To make up for the lost playing time, the Astros sent the 2016 first-rounder to the Arizona Fall League for a second straight year, and the Texas native responded well. Whitley made six starts for Peoria and finished with a 2.88 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 32 strikeouts and only nine walks over 25 innings. His 32 punchouts were the most by any Fall League pitcher in 2019.
The 22-year-old hurler is capable of throwing four plus pitches in his fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. That would give him one of the deepest arsenals in the Minors, but his command and control can fail him at times, as it did often in 2019. Whitley's overall potential still placed him at the No. 3 spot in MLB.com's updated right-handed pitching prospect rankings earlier this month. If things go well, he could join the Houston rotation this summer.
Other ranked Astros prospects to receive non-roster invites were No. 8 Jeremy Pena, No. 10 Brandon Bielak and No. 16 Ronnie Dawson. The other Minor Leaguers to receive the same news were right-handers Dean Deetz, Riley Ferrell, Ralph Garza Jr., Brendan McCurry and Andre Scrubb; left-hander Ryan Hartman; catchers Lorenzo Quintana, Jamie Ritchie and Chuckie Robinson; infielders Alex De Goti, Osvaldo Duarte and Nick Tanielu and outfielders Drew Ferguson, Chas McCormick and Stephen Wrenn.
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.