How valuable is Forrest Whitley?
The Houston Astros over the past two seasons have made some pretty big moves to bolster the team. It’s always nice to root for a team that’s not afraid to make a splash, whether that be from signing a free agent or making a push for a blockbuster trade. The Astros have consistently shown they aren’t afraid to make moves to improve.
However, they’ve also made it know they won’t compromise from their central beliefs that a good farm system is necessary to form a winning ballclub continually. Meaning; they’re not going to give up just anyone at any time if they feel they don’t need to, and they’re not going to give up on players whom they feel are going to be superstars at the Major League level.
Kyle Tucker’s stock
One player who has been mentioned time and time again is Kyle Tucker. The lanky outfielder was taken fifth overall in the 2015 Major League Baseball draft, made his debut in July of last year, and did not impress. He had nine hits in 72 plate appearances, a batting average of .141, and an on-base percentage of .236. Somewhere, Mario Mendoza is smiling.
Apart from his offensive numbers though, Tucker seemed to lack a sense of urgency when he played the outfield. He seemed out of it at times, and while he will still be a rookie in 2019, his name is now being mentioned in trade rumors, when before he was not. The Marlins have asked about Tucker, and the Astros ears are perking up unlike before.
So what about Forrest Whitley?
Tucker was mentioned because he and Whitley have been grouped together for years as two prospects that the Astros will not trade. However, with the price for Tucker dropping, and Whitley only getting better (36 K’s in 26 innings in the Arizona fall league). Whitley is more valuable than he ever has been, even after being suspended 50 games this season for violating Minor League Baseball’s drug policy. Most recently he was asked about by the Seattle Mariners in discussions for their former ace James Paxton.
The Astros answer? Flat out refusal, as reported by Jon Morosi.
James Paxton was then shipped to the New York Yankees for their number one overall prospect, Justus Sheffield. Jeff Luhnow commented and said, "I can't imagine what it's like to be these guys, every day they read rumors out in the media — whether they're true or not — that they may be getting traded for this player or that player," "We've said from the beginning, Whitley's not going anywhere except to Houston at some point in the near future.”
Is Holding onto Forrest Whitley Worth it?
From all accounts, Whitley is a special player. Looking back at his initial draft pick profile, you’ll see Whitley boasts some impressive pitches that have only continued to improve. Standing at six foot seven, his fastball gets on you quick at 92-97 miles per hours with a little cut on it. He throws a nasty curve that he can also turn into a slider, and his changeup makes hitters look foolish. A simple over the top delivery, easily flowing towards home plate, but hiding the ball well, he keeps hitters on their toes all game long.
He’s had 203 strikeouts in roughly two minor league seasons. Not to mention he has the stature and poise of an Ace, and he hasn’t even reached AAA. There’s a reason The Astros are so keen on keeping him. He has the stuff that can dominate for a long time as a number one starter, and that’s rare to come by.
Is 2019 the year?
Only time will tell when Forrest Whitley will make his much-anticipated debut. The way he’s pitched, and shown he can navigate lineups, he could very well start the season in AAA and make his presence known in Houston by late June, early July, and if the offseason doesn’t go the way the Astros hope, they could be looking at two-three spots truly unfilled in the rotation.
Everyone Astros fan is anxiously waiting and watching for this stud to continue to excel, and for him to take his place along with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in the rotation. Whitley will only help our chances of winning another World Series Championship, and that is the reason he is untouchable.
**All Stats Courtesy of ThreePitchStrikeout, MiLB.com, Baseball-reference, USA Today, Chron.com.**