HomeMLB RumorsAstros To Promote Forrest Whitley

Astros To Promote Forrest Whitley

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The Astros are recalling former top prospect Forrest Whitley for his first MLB promotion, reports Michael Schwab of the Juice Box Journal (X link). He’s already on the 40-man roster, so they’ll only need to make a corresponding active roster transaction.

Whitley, now 26, took a circuitous route to the majors. He was a first-round pick in 2016 out of a San Antonio high school. The 6’7″ righty dominated for his first year and a half, pitching his way to Double-A as a teenager. By 2018, he looked the part of a potential ace and the top pitching prospect in the sport.

Things haven’t played out the way Whitley or the Astros envisioned from that point. He was hit with a 50-game suspension for violating the minor league drug policy going into the ’18 season. Whitley battled shoulder issues the following year and lost his feel for the strike zone. The canceled 2020 campaign cost him another year of reps, although Houston nevertheless made the easy call to select him onto the 40-man roster to keep him out of the Rule 5 draft.

Whitley has held that spot ever since, although it didn’t always seem as if that were a guarantee. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2021 and posted subpar results when he returned. His control issues resurfaced as he pitched to a 6.53 ERA in the upper minors in 2022. He got off to another rough start last season before sustaining a lat strain that ended his year in May. The Astros were granted a fourth minor league option as a result of Whitley’s injury history.

The front office decided to keep him on the 40-man roster throughout last offseason. They moved him to the bullpen this year upon optioning him to Triple-A Sugar Land. Whitley hasn’t gotten off to a great start, allowing four runs on a trio of homers in three innings, but he’s a fresh arm for a bullpen that has been tasked with 71 innings through the season’s first three weeks. Only the Dodgers and Padres — who leaned heavily on their relief groups during their abbreviated series in Seoul a week before every other team’s Opening Day — have used their bullpens more heavily than Houston has.

While Whitley’s promotion isn’t going to be met with the same level of fanfare as it would have a few years ago, it’s surely rewarding for the righty all the same. It’s the culmination of a nearly eight-year climb through the minors that has been littered with injury setbacks. It could prove to be a fairly brief call — Houston may need to continue cycling through middle relievers until their rotation finds any kind of groove — but he could get the chance to make his debut.

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