On Thursday afternoon, the former top prospect in the Astros system, Forrest Whitley, took the mound in a rookie league game in the Florida Complex League. This was Forrest Whitley’s first time on the mound since October 25th, 2019 when he pitched in the Arizona Fall League.
“I was so nervous! I’ve never been that nervous in my life before a game, it was pretty crazy honestly. Still kinda taking it all in since it’s been so long”, Whitley said about his return to the mound.
Whitley has had a tough journey to this point, which I detailed here. The former top prospect has dealt with injuries and setbacks that continue to make the grind that much more difficult. I asked Whitley about the relief of finally being out on the mound in a live game and he said “I think the relief came once I finished the 2nd and proved that I could get myself out of a stressful situation healthy, I think that’s where most of the nerves were coming from. I just wanted to get through the outing.”
Whitley went 2 innings for the FCL Astros allowing 3 runs and picking up 2 strikeouts yesterday. The runs came in the first inning and the second inning was a lot more clean facing just 4 batters. The box score doesn’t show a pitch count but of his 6 outs, 4 were groundout – the other two were strikeouts.
“I thought all of my pitches had their moment today, was happy with how I was able to get the cutter and change up in some behind in the count”, Whitley said about his pitches during his outing. Back in 2017 when Whitley was one of the top prospects in baseball, he was sitting high 90s with the fastball. Now post Tommy John surgery, Whitley has gotten the velocity back and averaged 96 MPH on Thursday and was up to 97 MPH during his pen sessions.
With his first live game action out of the way, Whitley will continue his rehab. “Next step is to head to Fayetteville for another 2 inning outing, then a 3 inning outing following that”, Whitley said.
“I need to lock it in with runners on too, I’ll give myself a pass with that being my first outing in over 2 years, but definitely need to get back quicker and avoid the base on balls in the future. Overall there were more positives than negatives”, Whitley added about his first start.
While it has been a few years since he was a top prospect, he has worked his way back on the mound and still has the elite stuff that helped him become one of the top pitching prospects in the game.