New workout video shows former Astros top prospect could be primed for bounce back

The Astros could get a huge boost if Forrest Whitley looks THIS good going into 2024.
Feb 27, 2023; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Forrest Whitley (60)
Feb 27, 2023; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Forrest Whitley (60) / Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

A lot has been made of the Houston Astros' inactivity this offseason and that is a pretty fair criticism to be honest. Houston barely managed to win the AL West in 2023, has a pair of motivated and talented teams in the division right now in the Rangers and Mariners, and has some places on the roster where upgrades and/or replacements would be welcome. So far, the Astros have just signed a new backup catcher (albeit a good one) and made a couple other minor moves.

Houston's payroll concerns are the biggest reason for this lack of activity. Even with getting the Mets to send over some cash in the Justin Verlander trade, the Astros are already projected to be slightly over the luxury tax threshold thanks to expected arbitration raises for Kyle Tucker and Framber Valdez. Given that the Astros have yet to even replace new free agents Hector Neris and Phil Maton in the bullpen, that isn't a great position to be in.

However, one solution to some of the Astros' problems could be sitting right under their noses and, if he can stay healthy, the upside here is tremendous.

Astros' Forrest Whitley impresses in offseason workout

Forrest Whitley has never been short on arm talent as it was just a few years ago that he was considered to be one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball. Unfortunately, injuries and a drug suspension derailed his development to the point where many have wondered if he needs to move to the bullpen and even if he will ever stick in the big leagues.

Well, so far this offseason. Whitley's stuff is looking pretty live. Taking KingofJUCO's lunch money isn't exactly some grand feat, but Forrest's fastball and cutter were both looking nasty and hitting the numbers that you like to see during that workout. Assuming he can translate that into games going into 2024, that could be a huge win for a Houston team that needs some players to step up if they don't end up acquiring anyone new of consequence.

In an ideal world, Whitley would able to stick in the rotation which would provide some insurance for a starting pitching staff that looks a bit uneven going into 2024. However, it is far more likely based on Dana Brown's comments that a conversion to the bullpen is inevitable, but that could end up working out well, too. The Astros need bullpen depth with Neris and Maton leaving and Whitley's stuff could play well there while also limiting his innings to increase the likelihood that he can stay healthy. It doesn't hurt that Whitley could probably serve as a multiple inning guy if need be.

Tempering optimism that comes from one offseason workout is probably wise when it comes to Whitley. He has broken Astros' fans hearts repeatedly since Houston picked him in the first round back in 2016. However, all good news is welcome and if Forrest can bounce back and stay on the mound next season, it could take the sting out of what looks like will be a disappointing offseason.

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