Why you shouldn’t forget about Astros’ Forrest Whitley

Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports /
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As we patiently wait for the baseball, fans are left to wonder what this team will look like down the road. Clearly, the Houston Astros are in “win-now” mode and the front office has made moves and trades to help extend this long championship window.

But that comes at a cost and that cost was a now-depleted farm system.

The Astros once had a very rich farm system, full of highly rated players. However, through players moving up to the bigs or trades, the Astros now have a farm system ranking near the bottom.

In the last week, The Athletic (subscription) released its farm system ranking, where the Astros moved from No. 24 from No. 25 for the 2022 season. The outlet only noted Korey Lee and Jeremy Peña to the franchise’s future success.

The Astros are not devoid of minor-league talent (they clearly are great at signing international players) but Houston doesn’t have a major notable prospect coming down the pipes. Except maybe Forest Whitley.

Forrest Whitley has become somewhat of a Voldemort figure amongst Astros fans over the past couple years.

Player Situation

We don’t dare say his name because it gives us anguish. He was a top draft pick in 2016 out of high school, and he came in as a 6-foot-7 with elite fastball potential. Baseball Prospectus had him in the top-10 in both 2018 and 2019.

He was oozing with potential – he was the next Tyler Glasnow.

Then came the growing pains. Whitley had some minor issues off the field and dealt with some control issues on the mound that led to him having some insane walk rates that would make you squeamish.

Then came some bad luck. Whitley missed a year of baseball in 2020 due to the pandemic followed by a lost 2021 due to injury. Now, Whitley is now on the shelf with his Tommy John surgery that will keep him out until early 2022.

He’s all but dropped off the radar on most major MLB Pipeline list and now is just one big question mark.

When you look at Whitley, you see a high-bell curve with his performances and likely with who he projects to be. He’s not a bust like a Mark Appel, but he certainly gives some cause for concern.

He has shown flashes of sheer high-fastball dominance that makes you think he’s a future ace, another Justin Verlander-type.

He also has moments in the minors where he looks like spring training Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn (without the glasses of course). Consistency is always what count with pitchers. Strikeouts are nice, but high ERAs and high walk rates will kill your team.