Houston Astros: Five things atop the team’s Christmas wish list

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 30: Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 30: Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Houston Astros P
Houston Astros P /

A rapid rise for top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley

One of the best options for the Houston Astros to solve part of the starting pitching conundrum would be the ascension of the game’s top pitching prospect, Forrest Whitley. Whitley has the makings of a top-tier number one starter in any rotation.

Whitley boasts four top-tier pitches in his repertoire. His best pitch is his four-seam fastball that has some cutting action and can reach up to 97 MPH right now but he has the potential to elevate it to over 100 MPH. To back that up, he has a 12-6 curveball, a power slider, and a solid changeup.

The one thing that he still needs to figure out to truly make that jump to an elite arm is mastering his command. If he can show that he’s improved his command and is ready to make the jump in Spring Training or over that first month of the season in AA or AAA, that would be a tremendous boon to this team.

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If the Houston Astros can get Whitley up with the big league club working closely with Brent Strom, Justin Verlander, and Gerrit Cole it would greatly help him out. Those guys have a wealth of knowledge he should be able to tap into and it could expedite his growth to where he could have immediate staying power.

Whitley is just a few months removed from his 21st birthday and has a ton of baseball in front of him. In 2017, he joined Zack Greinke, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, and Dylan Bundy as the only prep first-round arms this century to advance to AA in their first full pro season. The team shouldn’t rush him but if he’s ready, they have no reason to hold him back.