The Lance McCullers Jr. outcome.
While Framber Valdez and Jose Urquidy have shown flashes of brilliance, they’re probably right where they should be in a rotation at the numbers three and four spot. Luis Garcia and Cristian Javier both have impressed in their short time at the major league level.
But none of those pitchers were considered top prospects on their way up. The Astros have been able to find diamonds in the rough with these pitchers, especially Luis Garcia who somehow jumped from single-A to the majors and was able to become the second place vote getter in the Rookie of the year award this past season.
Lance McCullers Jr. was considered a steal and the Astros drafted Carlos Correa number one overall so they could pay him below slot value (at the time Byron Buxton was considered the consensus top choice for the number one overall pick in the 2012 draft) so they could go above slot value in the compensatory rounds.
They did just that giving McCullers Jr. a $2.5 million signing bonus with the 41st pick. For perspective the slot value of the No. 13 overall pick in 2012 was $2.5 million. The slot value for the 41st pick that year was $1,258,700. The Astros doubled the signing bonus to get McCullers. That’s how highly they valued him.
And he is the last top Astros pitching prospect to fulfill the promise of being a future ace, putting together his best season yet this past year and finishing seventh in Cy Young voting.
Astros fans are still hoping Whitley can return to his 2017 form when he dominated on his astronomical rise to double-A in his first professional season.
As stated earlier though, the age 24 season for a prospect truly is a make or break season. Astros fans can only hope this is the year Whitley makes the jump and avoids the fortunes of the Mark Appels and Francis Martes of the the world.