There was a time when it seemed as though Forrest Whitley would be a star for the Houston Astros.
He had been a consensus top 100 prospect from 2018 through 2021, with three plus offerings in his arsenal. While his command of his stuff had been spotty at best, the expectation was that Whitley would eventually harness his pitches and fulfill his destiny as a top of the rotation arm. Those rankings were a matter of projection, especially as his performance in the upper levels of the minors did nothing to justify his lofty status.
There have been other factors holding Whitley back. He was suspended for 50 games in 2018 due to a failed PED test, making just eight appearances due to injury. Elbow woes appeared in 2020, leading to Tommy John surgery the following year. His overall performance, where he posted a 6.53 ERA and a 1.575 WHiP over his 40 innings across three levels, striking out 45 batters with 27 walks, does not exactly inspire confidence.
But Whitley is also a former top prospect. He is going to get chances that other players may not receive due to his previous standing in the organization. The Astros, for their part, have refused to consider moving on in regards to trade offers, although that could be a matter of refusing to sell low. For now at least, they still regard Whitley as a part of their future.
Whether or not that will continue to be the case could depend on Whitley’s performance this year. He is being considered as the Astros’ fifth starter to begin the season, although that spot likely belongs to Hunter Brown. Meanwhile, the hope is that Whitley takes a step forward this season, something that the Astros need to happen. As Whitley is already 25 years old and has yet to make his major league debut, time is starting to run out.
The Houston Astros still have faith that Forrest Whitley can be the player they hoped for. It may be now or never for that to happen.