According to announcements this week, Astros star pitching prospect Forrest Whitley will receive a 50-game suspension without pay for violating Minor League Baseball’s rules against performance-enhancing drugs.
The suspension is standard for minor league players who violate the policy, per league rules.
Although expected to start the season in the minor, Whitley reportedly stood a good chance of reaching the majors by the end of the season, according to analysts.
Standing at 6’7,” Whitley is already known for being a formidable right-handed starter:
During the 2017-2018 season, he reportedly earned 143 strikeouts in 92 1/3 innings.
A San Antonio native, Whitley started playing in the Astros farm system during 2016, when the franchise selected him as the 17th overall draft pick.
Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow expressed the team’s disappointment about the suspension in an interview with reporters:
“As an organization, we’re going to suffer a little bit but we’re still optimistic that Forrest can be a big part of our future,” Luhnow said.
Under his suspension, the earliest Whitley could return is May 29 in the 51st scheduled game of the Corpus Christi Hooks, a minor league Double-A team.
However, he may still join the Astros roster during the summer months:
“I made a mistake and take full responsibility for my actions,” Whitley provided in statement. “I want to apologize to the Astros organization, my family and those closest to me. I will learn from this mistake and continue striving to be the best baseball player that I can be.”
The first preseason Astros game for 2018 is scheduled for Friday against the Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach.