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.