Astros top prospect Whitley goes on Minors IL

Righty dealing with shoulder fatigue during trying Triple-A season

May 29th, 2019

HOUSTON – After struggling mightily at Triple-A Round Rock, Astros top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley has been placed on the seven-day injured list with shoulder fatigue and will be sent to the team’s facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., to begin a rehab regimen.

The 21-year-old right-hander is rated Houston's No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline, as well as the No. 9 prospect in baseball and the No. 2 right-handed pitching prospect. Whitley was off to a rocky start to 2019 at Triple-A. In his eight games (five starts) for Round Rock this season, he was 0-3 with a 12.21 ERA, with 29 strikeouts but also 15 walks in his 24 1/3 innings.

Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said Whitley has no structural damage in his elbow or shoulder and has felt a bit fatigued.

“Any time a young player, especially a pitcher, reports any sort of soreness or fatigue, we err on the side of caution, especially with him,” he said. “That, combined with the fact he wasn’t having any success in Triple-A, made it a good time for us to send him to Palm Beach.

“He’s going to work out there, he’s going to strengthen his shoulder, he’s going to throw there, and at the right time he’ll get a chance to get back out with a club. Sort of a reset on his season and probably a good time to do it, because there’s still plenty of season left and he’ll have an opportunity to get back out to one of our affiliates and pitch and prove to us he’s ready for an opportunity here, if one presents itself.”

Coming off what amounted to almost a lost 2018 season that began with a suspension and ended with an injury, Whitley dominated in the Arizona Fall League last year and has tweaked his mechanics and his body – putting on 30 pounds from last spring – in anticipation of perhaps making his Major League debut this year. That now seems unlikely.

“This will be a good opportunity to take stock of where everything is and work with our pitching coaches and not be distracted by being 60 miles from his hometown [of San Antonio],” Luhnow said. “It will be a good opportunity for him, but I think he’s mentally strong. He’s had setbacks before, and he’s came through it. Last year was a great indication of that.”