Astros: What more does Whitley need to prove he’s ready?
By Brian Murray
Houston Astros’ pitching phenom Forrest Whitley has had an outstanding Spring Training debut. Hasn’t he shown that he’s ready for the big leagues?
Texas native Whitley was a non-roster invitee to the Astros‘ Spring Training this season, making his long-awaited debut. The 21-year-old didn’t waste any time proving that he was more than capable of the task ahead. He is the Astros’ #2 prospect and the top pitching prospect in all of Major League Baseball.
The Astros were rumored to be in trade talks with several teams this offseason for that big bat or top pitcher. But GM Jeff Luhnow repeatedly iterated that Forrest Whitley will not be a part of any transaction, he was one of Houston’s untouchable prospects. Many thought that this Spring may be his shot to make it into the starting rotation. A. J. Hinch put that to bed early on.
"Hinch said the “young guys that everybody will immediately go to” Whitley, Martin and Bukauskas are not options for breaking out of camp. “They’re not ready to jump into a rotation.”"
Whitley didn’t allow this statement to deter his perseverance. Even his reassignment to the minors this week had no effect on his determination, as evidenced by his latest outing against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Despite the reassignment, Whitley was called over from the minor league side of Spring Training to get the start in yesterday’s split-squad game. As he’s done all Spring, Whitley was impressive on the mound pitching four shutout innings, allowing no hits, and striking out four batters in the process.
He certainly didn’t hurt his resume this Spring in his four appearances. In twelve innings pitched, Whitley only surrendered two earned runs resulting in a 1.50 ERA. He has struck out 15 batters compiling an 11.5 SO/9 ratio while keeping his walks down to 3 per 9 IP. He only allowed five hits from the 47 batters he faced this Spring.
I’m not sure what else it takes to show the brass that he’s ready for his shot in the Majors, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Whitley get the call up this season, sooner rather than later. From what he’s shown this Spring, there’s no doubt he’ll make the best out of his reassignment to the minors, however long that will be.