11/13/18 Scottsdale, AZ
There’s a reason the Arizona Fall League is called the “Hidden Gem” of baseball. Tickets are cheap, seats are plentiful, and the weather is beautiful. Meanwhile, some of baseball’s best players of the future are featured day in and day out. Each MLB organization sends a certain amount of players for about six weeks of extra work, and the reasons range: some have lost time due to injury or suspension, others are there to get a few more weeks of practice in on a specific skill, and a few are there to sub for players removed from the roster.
This year, fans were able to enjoy seeing the league’s top pitching prospect (No. 8 overall) Forrest Whitley, and the Houston Astros’ 2016 first round pick arrived ready to make up for lost time.
There was a chance we could have seen Whitley up in the big leagues as early as this past September had he not missed most of 2017 due to suspension and injury. Instead, Houston’s No. 2 prospect took down much of the competition during his tenure with the Scottsdale Scorpions.
Drafted 17th overall in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft out of Alamo Heights High in San Antonio, Forrest Whitley shot through the minor league levels in his first full year of pro ball in 2017. That year, Whitley threw 143 strikeouts in his 92.1 total innings between Low-A Quad Cities, High-A Buies Creek, and Double-A Corpus Christy. He was suspended 50 games for a violation of minor league baseball’s drug program at the beginning of 2018 and the rest of the season was hampered by oblique and lat injuries.
Now back in good health, Whitley began his AFL campaign with Pitcher of the Week recognition and finished just as strong on Wednesday afternoon. The 6-7 right hander started Scottsdale’s final game of the year and allowed just one hit through five scoreless innings in the Scorpions loss to eventual AFL champion Peoria. His nine strikeouts on Wednesday tied the Arizona Fall League high this year. He finishes his fall season with 36 strikeouts in 26 innings, thanks to being able to effectively mix up his arsenal of pitches and keep batters guessing.
Forrest Whitley happened to be the first prospect who took some time out to talk to Ally while she was down in Arizona for the final week of Fall League. Watch the interview to hear his takes on his season, Houston fans’ response to his San Antonio Spurs fandom, and especially how this Astros prospect cheered for Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants growing up.