Forrest Whitley
Forrest Whitley
22-Year-Old PitcherRP
Houston Astros
2020 Fantasy Outlook
After missing seven weeks with shoulder fatigue, Whitley adjusted his delivery to incorporate better upper-body posture that would lessen the stress on his arm and allow him to throw more strikes. The growing pains while making those adjustments were significant, but perhaps inevitable for a 6-foot-7 pitcher changing a delivery he had used for the past seven years. He walked 25 in 35 IP after coming off the injured list but also struck out 53 over that stretch. With his ace-level arsenal in tact, the lean, athletic righty went to the Arizona Fall League and finished the year on a high note (2.88 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 32:9 K:BB in 25 innings). Whitley still has the best pure stuff in the minors. His fastball, changeup and curveball can all be 70-grade pitches and he has a plus slider and cutter. Still just 22, Whitley will need to show he can consistently command his pitches before joining the Astros' rotation. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a contract with the Astros in June of 2016 that includes a $3.15 million signing bonus.
Likely headed to Triple-A
PHouston Astros  AAA
February 19, 2020
Astros pitching coach Brent Strom said Tuesday that he expects Whitley to be assigned to Triple-A Fresno to begin the 2020 season, Brian McTaggart of reports.
This was the expectation, but Strom essentially confirmed that the team's top pitching prospect is not in the hunt for a spot in the Opening Day rotation. "And when it's right, it'll happen, but I don't think right now I would consider him, you know, a viable candidate [for the No. 5 spot]." Whitley struggled to a 12.21 ERA in eight appearances at the Triple-A level last year while battling through shoulder fatigue. He returned late in the calendar year, putting up an impressive 32:9 K:BB in 25 innings in the Arizona Fall League. Whitley is in camp with the big-league squad.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
An athletic, 6-foot-7 righty, Whitley is the undisputed top pitching prospect in the game. He has five plus pitches, including two 70-grade offerings in his fastball and changeup. It is the most dominant minor-league arsenal in recent memory. The question is, how many innings will he log in the big leagues this season? He was suspended for the first 50 games of 2018 for violating the minor-league drug program (Adderall is the rumored drug) and then missed over five weeks with a mild oblique strain. When factoring in the Texas League playoffs and the Arizona Fall League, Whitley threw just 55 innings. This is the most important statistic to consider when evaluating him for redraft leagues. He has never pitched at Triple-A and will likely be limited to around 110 innings, so even if he is healthy and dominant, Whitley may only log around 15 starts in the majors. He will be awesome when he pitches, just be aware of the workload limitations.
Whitley joined Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Dylan Bundy and Chad Billingsley as the only prep first rounders over the last 20 years to reach Double-A in their first full season. He accomplished the feat in style, getting better as the year went on (23.6 K-BB% at Low-A, 31.8 K-BB% at High-A, 39.3 K-BB% at Double-A). At 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, he has the frame to eat innings and uses his length to get excellent extension on his pitches, allowing his 92-94 mph fastball to play up as a plus pitch. This is usually where we discuss which secondary pitches need to improve for a 20-year-old to eventually profile in the rotation, but Whitley already has a complete four-pitch repertoire. His curveball is a second plus offering, and he commands a quality changeup and improving slider. It was announced in late February that he will be suspended for the first 50 games of 2018 for testing positive for a drug of abuse. This won't have a major impact on his long-term prospects, but could delay his big-league debut.
A 6-foot-7, 240-pound prep righty, Whitley draws physical comparisons to Josh Johnson. He fell to the Astros with the 17th pick, and they happily gave him an over-slot $3.15 million bonus. Whitley has a mid-90s fastball that receives plus-plus grades thanks to superb late life, and he features three secondary offerings -- something that separates him from most hard-throwing 19-year-olds. His hammer curveball is his second-best pitch, but his slider also shows plus potential. Given his age and size, the fact that he already has feel for a changeup is another mark in his favor. Excluding a 1.1-inning relief appearance where Whitley gave up four earned runs, he notched a 3.12 ERA and 24:5 K:BB in 17.1 innings across stops in the Gulf Coast and Appalachian leagues. He should receive an assignment to the Midwest League to start 2017. There is plenty of risk in investing in 6-foot-7 prep arms, and there will undoubtedly be bumps along the developmental road, but Whitley has the tools and physical traits to be a special pitcher for a long time.
More Fantasy News
Invited to big-league camp
PHouston Astros  AAA
January 21, 2020
Whitley was invited to the Astros' big-league camp Tuesday, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
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Excellent in first AFL start
PHouston Astros  AAA
September 25, 2019
Whitley, who took a no-hitter into the fifth inning of his 2019 Arizona Fall League debut, attributed a lot of his woes this season to trying to make some necessary mechanical adjustments that he hopes will ease the stress on his shoulder going forward, Jim Callis of reports. "I'm getting a lot more comfortable with the newer delivery, throwing a lot more strikes as of late, bullpen [sessions] have been really solid lately," Whitley said.
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Headed to AFL
PHouston Astros  AAA
August 27, 2019
Whitley will throw in the Arizona Fall League, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
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Outside chance to reach majors
PHouston Astros  AAA
August 11, 2019
Whitley (shoulder) could still contribute in some capacity in the majors this season, but he faces an uphill battle to do so, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports. "He would have to prove to us in August that he could help us, which is a high bar (because) he's not currently on the (40-man) roster," general manager Jeff Luhnow said Saturday. "But I'm not going to rule it out, that's for sure."
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Set for another Double-A start
PHouston Astros  AAA
August 9, 2019
Whitley (shoulder) will make another start for Double-A Corpus Christi on Friday.
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