Astros' top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley suspended 50 games

Whitley was poised to reach the majors at some point this season, so this puts a bit of a damper on his prospects for 2018.

The Astros top pitching prospect, Forrest Whitley, has been suspended for 50 games without pay for violating Minor League drug rules.

Whitley is on the roster for Double-A Corpus Christi. His suspension will begin at the start of the Texas League season.

“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," said Astros GM Jeff Luhnow.

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The Astros drafted Whitley 17th overall in 2016. The 6'7 right-hander played at three minor league levels last season, finishing with Corpus Christi where he had a 1.84 ERA in four games.

He was expected to reach the majors by next season, but there was a chance that he could have made his debut this year. Luhnow said missing so much time will likely slow his development, but he added that if things go well once he returns the suspension wouldn't keep the Astros from bringing him up later this season.

Luhnow wouldn't provide details on what led to the suspension, but he did say Whitley was remorseful and he believes he will learn from his mistake.

"On the pitching side I don't have any concerns, he's going to continue to develop and this is part of maturity," Luhnow said. "When you're a high school player and you get drafted and you're a top prospect there's a lot of pressure that goes along with that role. And I don't know if that had anything to do with this, but there's a maturation process going from high school and the big leagues and this is one step along the way for him.

In high school, Whitley was named to the Rawlings-Perfect Game 1st Team All-America and Texas All-Region 1st Team in 2016. In his junior year, he was named to the Perfect Game Underclass Second Team and played on the USA Baseball 18U National Team.