Astros pitching prospect Forrest Whitley has suffered another setback on his road to the majors. This time around, it will cost him the entire 2021 season, as he is headed for Tommy John surgery. Astros manager Dusty Baker confirmed to reporters on Wednesday that Whitley would require the elbow surgery.
“He’s a talent that’s been on and off the injured list,” Baker said Wednesday via the Associated Press. “And so hopefully we can go do the operation and then his career can skyrocket from there once he’s ready.”
Whitley was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow after he experienced discomfort in his elbow during a live batting practice session earlier in spring training.
Whitley has not yet debuted in the majors and posted a 7.99 ERA across four minor-league levels in 2019. The 23-year-old was widely considered the top pitching prospect in baseball just two years ago, but his stock has fallen a bit since. From R.J. Anderson’s recent top 50 prospects entry (which ranked Whitley No. 48):
Whitley entered the 2019 season in the conversation for the title of “best pitching prospect in baseball.” He then had a hellacious year that saw him post a 7.99 ERA and walk more than six batters per nine in 59 innings. To make matters worse, he’s never thrown as many as 100 innings in a season because of the pandemic, injuries, and suspension. Whitley has a deep, high-grade arsenal and the frame to eat innings. Whether he ever lives up to his billing as a potential front-of-the-rotation monster is anyone’s guess. The way things have trended, it would be fair to say that it seems unlikely.
The Astros have recently seen some turnover at the big-league level in their rotation, as Framber Valdez suffered a finger fracture and the club then signed free agent Jake Odorizzi.