The Mark Appel outcome.
Whitley is 24-years-old. Generally speaking that’s the age where a prospect is still considered viable as an asset before they really get downgraded.
The Houston Astros have to be hearing alarm bells reminding them of Mark Appel with the trajectory of Whitley right now. Formerly a can’t miss prospect who for whatever reason just can’t stay consistent enough to move on to the next level.
In Appel’s age 24 season the Astros decided to extract as much value as they thought they could in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies for their young closer Ken Giles.
While the results of the trade were not what the Astros wanted assuming Giles would become the next Brad Lidge, they certainly weren’t wrong sending Appel in the package as he never made it the big leagues before retiring after the 2017 season.
He’s now attempting a comeback at the age of 30, but still has yet to crack a major league roster.
And before anyone says, “but Whitley was amazing in the Arizona Fall League this past year. We can’t give up on him now!” Well, so was Mark Appel in the 2014 Arizona Fall League when he had a 2.61 ERA over seven starts with a 0.84 WHIP. Small sample sizes can’t be trusted.
That doesn’t mean Whitley is the same as Appel or will turn out the same, but this is pretty much his do or die season in terms of his future with the Astros.