Age: 22 yr, Weight: 195 lbs, Height: 6-7
School: Alamo Heights (TX) HS
MLB Draft: Round 1, Overall: 17
Current Level: AA, ETA: 2020
One of the most talented, and highly rated, arms in the minors. A deep pitch mix and elite stuff, needs to overcome command woes.
It’s been a treacherous couple of years for Forrest Whitley, as a drug suspension and a series of injuries limited his innings and ultimately his effectiveness. Take in any Whitley appearance and the talent is abundant. His combination of size, athleticism, and stuff is rare. His pitch mix is deep, rolling five different offerings in his arsenal. During his early stint with AAA Round Rock in 2019, Whitley struggled with his command mightily, and he was punished for it in the unforgiving PCL “Rabbit Ball” environment.
This season, Whitley changed his off-season regiment. Toning down his workouts and coming into camp with added weight. Whitley believes this will allow him to not breakdown over the course of his starts, as he gets deeper into the season. That remains to be seen.
In writing this blurb, I (Ralph) took in a handful of Whitley starts over the course of last season, and his two spring training appearances this season. These are my notes.
Whitley utilizes a right handed overhead delivery, that he ditches from the stretch. Whitley’s command from the stretch is noticeably worse than from his full delivery. Though that’s not terribly uncommon.
It’s an upright motion, but it’s athletic for a guy his size, hitting 95-97 mph with very little effort. Big downhill plane creates a difficult angle for hitters to square up, he just has difficulty landing pitches low in the zone with consistency.
In my looks, the fastball sat 94-97 touching 97-98, the slider was 87-88, a 12-6 CB at 85-87, changeup, cutter variation of slider that runs into the 90s. It’s a deep and gorgeous pitch mix, but his ability to consistently command it is another story. For every well placed fastball low in the zone is another that bleeds too much into the middle of the plate. He consistently struggles to locate inside to left handed batters, and his curveball can miss the bottom of the zone too frequently.
At his best, Whitley leads with confidence in his fastball working all over the zone with the pitch. From batter to batter, he varies his primary secondary pairing depending upon how he attacks with the fastball. Frequently to righthanders he’d start off fastball low armside, fastball high armside, followed by his high spin (~2900 rpm) hammer curveball.
When Whitley didn’t execute the first two fastballs, he’d often go back to the well on the fastball looking to locate a strike. Hitters picked up on this, and jumped on the pitch across my looks last season and early this spring.
Versus left handers, Whitley struggled to get ahead, but when he did he used his slider, cutter and changeup effectively. The pitch mix to dominate at the highest levels is present, it’s a rather a matter of mastering his control and command. Through advancement in that area his sequencing will improve.
There’s still an ace upside in Whitley’s profile, but concerns about his command are very real. Throughout my video looks, it was clear Whitley is still mastering the ability to repeat his motion. If this comes, so may come the command. Until then Whitley remains a tantalizing combination of stuff and physicality that’s yet to get over the hump.