Say what you will about the Astros trade deadline reluctance, but keeping Forrest Whitley appears to be the right decision.
Remember the months of July and August? The time period the Astros should’ve cave and trade away Forrest Whitley, Kyle Tucker and Derek Fisher for established major league players?
Oh, yeah, those were fun times.
That said, I’m do not consider myself a prospect hoarder.
Instead, I believe you sometimes sacrifice the future for the short-term if the goal is worth it. The Justin Verlander trade feels like the right kind of trade. You go for it if your goal is within grasp.
Like a franchise’s chance at their first World Series title.
I’m also of the belief that you don’t mortgage the future to keep a declining product on the field for slightly longer. Looking at you Astros management from 2006 through 2009.
But this train of thought doesn’t necessarily apply to the Astros today. In fact, they are expected to improve if the right personnel decisions take place.
Anyway, this post was meant to be about Forrest Whitley. And while his season is unfortunately over, we can still admire it.
2017 statistics: 5-4 W-L, 92.1 IP, 2.83 ERA, 2.92 RAvg, 34 BB, 143 SO
As one could summarize, Whitley was quite good this season. In fact, he was quite exceptional.
Believe it or not, but Whitley actually improved mostly as he went up the organizational ladder. For example, he started the season with the Quad Cities River Bandits. In 46.1 innings for Quad Cities, Whitley posted 13.0 strikeouts per nine innings.
The next stop were the Buies Creek Astros. And there he posted 14.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 31.1 innings.
The last stop Whitley made in 2017 was with the Corpus Christi Hooks. Whitley posted 16.0 strikeouts per nine innings there in 14.2 innings. Sure, this is not a large sample in Double-A, but you have to be encouraged.
This is one reason why Whitley is considered the Astros’ top pitching prospect in many circles.
Whitley also has quality stuff as four of his pitches are projected to be “solid-or-better” by MLB Pipeline. If he continues to progress at this rate, a late 2018 or 2019 promotion may be in the works.
And Whitley is only 19-years old. If you look at the table above from Baseball Reference, you will notice that Whitley is consistently younger than the league average at each stop he made. Oh, yeah, he was recently named the Astros’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
While it is good to temper expectations for prospects, you can’t help but view Whitley with a different lens. There is ace-level stuff there in Whitley, and he could be atop of the team’s starting rotation one day. I haven’t felt this optimistic about an Astros’ pitching prospect in years. Let’s hope that the optimism doesn’t fade into a dark oblivion in the future.
**Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and MLB Pipeline**