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Top prospect Whitley dealing with sore arm

@brianmctaggart
August 2, 2020

Astros manager Dusty Baker revealed Saturday that the club’s top pitching prospect, Forrest Whitley, has been dealing with arm soreness, which is why he wasn’t among the group of young pitchers who have made their Major League debuts since the season started on July 24. “Whitley might have had a

Astros manager Dusty Baker revealed Saturday that the club’s top pitching prospect, Forrest Whitley, has been dealing with arm soreness, which is why he wasn’t among the group of young pitchers who have made their Major League debuts since the season started on July 24.

“Whitley might have had a great chance to break with us,” Baker said prior to Saturday’s game against the Angels at Angel Stadium.

Whitley, the 19th-ranked overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, is working out at the team’s alternate training site in Corpus Christi, Texas. Whitley threw three times in Summer Camp for the Astros at Minute Maid Park: a live batting practice session July 8, one inning in an instrasquad game July 14 and two innings July 22.

Baker said Whitley felt soreness in his arm during one of his outings in Houston and again recently while throwing in Corpus Christi. The team offered no additional clarity on the nature or the severity of the soreness.

“He’s throwing, but do you take a chance in injuring him or do you push him?” Baker said. “At this point, if a guy says he’s sore and not right, then it’s not right.’”

After missing 50 games following a suspension and then sustaining a pair of oblique injuries in 2018, Whitley’s '19 didn’t go much smoother. He went a combined 3-7 with a 7.99 ERA, 44 walks and 86 strikeouts across four levels. He began the year at Triple-A Round Rock, where he had a 12.21 ERA in eight games (five starts) before being placed on the injured list with shoulder fatigue.

The Astros have had seven pitchers make their Major League debuts in the first five games of the season as a result of injuries to the pitching staff and the expanded rosters.

Here are more injury updates from Baker:
• Veteran outfielder Michael Brantley was held out of Saturday's lineup because his leg is sore. Brantley has been limping since his left foot stepped on the foot of Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly covering first base during Tuesday’s loss.

“I thought it would be better to give him off before he ends up pulling something,” Baker said. “We certainly can't afford to lose Michael Brantley.”

• All-Star setup man Ryan Pressly made his season debut during Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Angels in 10 innings. Pressly, who had been dealing with elbow soreness, gave up one run on two hits with one walk and one strikeout while recording two outs in the eighth.

Yordan Alvarez, the 2019 American League Rookie the Year Award winner, is about 10 days to two weeks away from joining the club, Baker said. Alvarez was placed on the IL on July 12 for undisclosed reasons and has been working out in Corpus Christi for the past week.

• Right-hander Jose Urquidy, who like Alvarez went on the IL on July 12 and has been at Corpus Christi for the past week, would need three weeks to a month to build up arm strength to be a starter or two to three weeks if he’s going to be a reliever.

• Right-hander Chris Devenski, who gave up three runs in the eighth inning Sunday, was placed on the injured list. He had previously been diagnosed with elbow soreness. The club purchased the contract of right-hander Carlos Sanabria from its alternate training site.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.