The Astros Have a New Prospect by the Name of Forrest Whitley
After months of preparation, the Houston Astros have finally made their selection for their first pick in the 2016 Draft. Jeff Luhnow has fewer first round picks and draft bonus pool money this year, but you can still get quality players with the 17th overall pick. Past 17th pick selections have been Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and Brad Lidge among others. I wrote about the more recent 17th overall picks in the last ten years, in which you can read here.
Before the draft, after looking at mock drafts, I narrowed my list down to six possible players, even though I knew there was zero chance that Zack Collins would still be on the board, but I added him because the Astros need a catcher and he was the best. That leaves me down to T.J. Zuech, Forrest Whitley, Cody Sedlock, Matt Thaiss, and Dakota Hudson. Check out what I said about them here.
The player the Astros took in the 2016 draft, Forrest Whitley, he is a 6’7” high school pitcher out of Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio. As you can tell, he is a tall guy who can bring the heat. On the MLB Network coverage of the draft, they said a good comp is a healthy Josh Johnson. The can throw in the upper 90’s and has an 80’s curveball-slider, with a changeup that drops quickly. He will have to adjust to professional baseball.
Here is an excerpt from my post earlier on Whitley.
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"“He is a 6’7” high school senior who can throw the heat, with 113 strikeouts in 61 innings with a 0.34 ERA. Doing the math, that’s about 16.7 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. You can imagine that high school opponents were sick on the days Whitley took the mound. The thing he needs to work on at the next level is improving his command which you can get away with in high school, but professional baseball is a different story.”"
By picking Whitley, Luhnow has confidence in his pitching in the short term, because taller pitchers tend to take longer to develop. He will have to work on his control, but he will have 3-4 years to that exact thing. If the Astros properly develop him, he could be the steal of the draft down the road. Just to state the obvious, he is not a fast-tracked player.
He is currently pitching for his high school in the state tournament. Good luck to him and sign him quickly Astros, this guy could be our ace down the road. The Astros could have drafted him to possibly save some money, but he can always say that he will go play at a junior college and reenter the draft. Both sides will get what they want, after all, we don’t want another Brady Aiken situation. He has a slot value of $2,504,200, from my article listed below.
This is the start to rebuilding the Astros farm system that has taken a hit over the last couple of years with trades. The Astros are very aware of how much talent they have lost, and this is a step in the right direction for the team. They have another pick, later on, tonight and 38 more over the next few days. Good luck to Jeff Luhnow and Mike Elias. Great pick.
***Stats from MLB Pipeline***