The Astros’ top pitching prospect will not see a professional pitcher’s mound for a while.
Forrest Whitley, the Astros’ top pitching prospect, has been suspended without pay for fifty games. This is due to a violation of the minor league rules of its drug program per Buster Olney of ESPN.
This is clearly not the news Whitley nor the Astros wanted to explain on a Wednesday morning in February. If there was a positive in this situation, it appears that Whitley quickly accepted responsibility for his actions.
And the Astros through general manager Jeff Luhnow expressed their own statement on the matter.
As well as Major League Baseball.
Per a source from Chuck Miketinac of Fox 29 in San Antonio, the failed drug test appears to be linked to Whitley needing to stay awake during a long drive home.
Mr. Miketinac’s source also mentions that Whitley hired an attorney in an attempt to stop the ruling.
Take of all that as you will.
The suspension will undoubtedly be a temporary setback in Whitley’s development as he was expected to start the 2018 season with the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Astros’ Double-A affiliate in the Texas League. The 20-year old pitcher placed himself high on baseball’s overall prospect list following an impressive 2017 campaign. Whitley has consistently been ranked as one of the top ten or fifteen prospects in baseball this off-season.
In terms of a potential debut in the majors, this likely doesn’t move the needle much. This author would be surprised if Whitley isn’t part of the September promotions once the rosters expand. The Astros are surely not thrilled, though, with the lost time in terms of his development. At the same time, this suspension appears not to be the byproduct of a nefarious plot by Whitley to circumvent the rules. If anything, it was a careless mistake by the young man. And we all were young once. Hopefully for Whitley he learns from this lesson and doesn’t let it become a distraction.