Whitley lasted 1.1 innings Monday in his start for Triple-A Round Rock, conceding five runs on four hits and two walks while striking out one in a 10-2 loss to Memphis. Making his second appearance of the season, Whitley endured one of the roughest outings of his largely immaculate minor-league career. The right-hander wasn't merely the victim of bad luck on balls in play either, as all four of the hits he surrendered were doubles. One poor outing in a hitter-friendly environment won't dim Whitley's long-term outlook or change his standing as baseball's top pitching prospect, though it could give the Astros some pause about accelerating his arrival to the majors.
Whitley is opening the year with Triple-A Round Rock, Jim Callis of MLB.com reports. He will be pitching in games right away this season, which is noteworthy, as the Astros could have opted to hold him back in extended spring training in an effort to make sure he still had plenty in the tank for a postseason run. They can still manage his innings and make that happen going this route, of course, and he should quickly show that he has little left to prove against minor-league hitters. He could be promoted to the majors at any moment this season.
Whitley walked two and struck out four over four hitless innings Friday against the Cardinals. Whitley was sent to minor-league camp earlier this week but did not let that disappointment impact Friday's start. With just 10 starts at the Double-A level, Whitley will head back to the minors this season to build up innings.
Whitley was reassigned to minor-league camp Tuesday, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic reports. Whitley has allowed just two runs in eight innings of work this spring, recording an 11:2 K:BB, though he was never considered likely to break camp with the team. He has just 10 starts at the Double-A level under his belt, but his talent level is high enough that he's expected to debut at some point this season.
Whitley allowed one run on two hits and one walk while striking out six in Friday's game against the Cardinals. Whitley got to face serious major-league talent and gave up a first-pitch home run to Matt Carpenter before settling in. He fanned Paul Goldschmidt twice and Paul DeJong. "There were definitely some positives I could take from it, along with some negative," he told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. "I seem to dwelling on those a little bit more than I should be, but I was pretty happy with last night. I was able to execute two-strike pitches pretty well and get a decent amount of strikeouts. That was pretty big, something I hadn't been doing a lot the last two outings. That's a positive I could take away." He's performed well overall this spring, but Whitley is not expected to be part of Houston's staff to start 2019.
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