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Whitley dazzles vs. Goldschmidt, Cardinals

Houston's top prospect strikes out 6 in 3 innings
@brianmctaggart
March 8, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The top pitching prospect in baseball had his way with a six-time All-Star and perennial Most Valuable Player contender on Friday night. Sure, it was only a Grapefruit League game in the middle of March, but Astros right-hander Forrest Whitley – the No. 7 prospect

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The top pitching prospect in baseball had his way with a six-time All-Star and perennial Most Valuable Player contender on Friday night.

Sure, it was only a Grapefruit League game in the middle of March, but Astros right-hander Forrest Whitley – the No. 7 prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- dazzled in a 6-3 loss to the Cardinals at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches by striking out six batters in three innings, including Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt twice.

“This spring, we’ve seen a lot of good stuff out of him,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said of Whitley's three exhibition appearances. “Obviously, it’s probably a big night for him, a couple of recognizable names. This is a progression for him. He’s got to get through a few of these Spring Training outings, face some guys that you know he recognizes and has a night like that. Very productive.”

Whitley gave up a homer to Matt Carpenter in the fifth on a fastball on the first pitch he threw, but allowed only one hit the rest of the way. He struck out the side in the seventh -- his third and final inning -- while pitching around a walk to Carpenter.

“His stuff is going to be good enough to come back from things like [the homer],” Hinch said. “I’m more impressed with the 3-1 changeup, the 3-2 falling behind guys and still coming back and having competitive at-bats. He’s an impressive kid.”

Whitley threw a lot of curveballs, including three in a row to Paul DeJong before striking him out with a fastball, and he fell behind Goldschmidt, 3-1, in the fifth. He threw a changeup for a full count and then struck out Goldschmidt on a 98-mph fastball.

“He should feel good,” Hinch said.

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