Highly touted pitching prospect Forrest Whitley for the Houston Astros was suspended on Wednesday without play for 50 games for violating the drug program of minor league baseball, announced Major League Baseball. Whitley will not be paid during the period of his suspension.
Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow, when asked about the suspension, said that the organization would obviously suffer somewhat from the suspension but is hopeful as well as optimistic that Whitley will be a big part of the team’s future.
Whitley, who is just 20, was the first round pick of the Astros in 2016 and was the 17th overall pick. He attended San Antonio’s Alamo Heights High School.
Last season, Whitley started the year in low-A ball but moved to Double-A. Between the teams he pitched for, Whitley accumulated a combined record of 5-4 with an ERA of 2.83 and 142 strikeouts in just 92 1/3 innings. His combined record included pitching for three teams including four appearances for Corpus Christi in Double-A where he posted an ERA of just 1.84.
Luhnow did not provide any details on what led up to Whitley’s suspension, but did say that Whitley spoke of being remorseful and the GM believes the young, talented hurler will learn from the mistake he made.
Luhnow added that as far as the pitching part was concerned he did not have concerns of any sort, adding that Whitley would continue developing and all this is part of his personal maturation process.
Luhnow added that when you play in high school and are drafted as one of baseball’s top prospects there is a great deal of pressure that, that role includes especially for some who is so young.
Luhnow said he was not sure if that played a part in anything to do with Whitley being suspended but a maturation process takes place from moving straight from high school to professional baseball and what has happened now is just a step along that process for Whitley.
Houston has been fending off recent interest in a trade for the right-hander who stands 6-foot-7, and is now ranked at No. 8 amongst the top 100 prospects starting spring training.
The Astros started spring training last week with pitchers and catchers and positions players this week. The Astros are one of the favorites to repeat as National League champions in 2018.