It's time for Forrest Whitley to prove himself
The Astros lineup will draw plenty of eyes in their third game of Spring Training, beginning with their starting pitcher. Forrest Whitley gets the start for Houston today. We've covered Whitley at length this offseason, from discussions around conversions to a reliever to listing him as a prospect to watch. Today will be the first chance to watch Whitley this Spring.
Whitley has had quite the fall. The former consensus top-10 prospect in the game has yet to make his MLB debut. Baseball America just ranked him the Astros 28th-best prospect.
While he may be viewed as damaged goods by fans and in the industry, the Houston front office hasn't given up on the once highly touted prospect. Brown went on the record that he is hoping Whitley takes a jump like Spencer Strider did in 2022. Whitley proving himself would go a long way towards helping Houston weather the storm of Lance McCullers' injury.
MLB.com scouts still see Whitley in a better light than Baseball America, ranking him as Houston's 10th-best prospect. They gave Whitley a 60-grade fastball, curveball and changeup with a 55-grade slider and cutter, but only a 45 in control for a 45 overall grade.
Walks have been Whitley's undoing until now. In his first three seasons in the minors, Whitley averaged only 2.7 walks per nine. His walk rate has skyrocketed since then, reaching 6.1 in 2022. If Whitley can find his command, he still has plenty of stuff that should play.
Injuries and a suspension are what previously derailed Whitley, who now says this is as healthy as he has been in four years, which is when the wheels came off.
For Whitley, a clean bill of health and a new pitch in the form of a splitter could be exactly what he needs to regain form and prove himself in Houston.
He'll take the hill today at 1:05 PM ET/12:05 PM CT. Jose Altuve will make his first appearance of the Spring this afternoon as well.