HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- High-velocity pitches thrown from the talented right arm of Houston Astros pitcher Forrest Whitley do not make up the only movement in his life.
"All the injuries, the adversity - it's definitely shaped me into a much different person these last few years," Whitley admitted during an interview at Astros spring training. "I'm definitely grateful for all those opportunities to grow into the person I am, and I'm happy where I'm at."
Where he's at is still on the cusp of the Major Leagues.
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Despite being in the Astros system for eight years, Whitley - once touted among the best pitching prospects in baseball - has yet to make his big league debut.
Injuries and a suspension are among the curve balls with which he's dealt.
"I've been at that point for the last four years," Whitley said. "I'm ready to break that barrier. I'm finally healthy. It's my first healthy spring in a while."
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'A while' is also a way to describe how long it's been since the Astros used a first-round pick to select Whitley in the 2016 MLB Draft. For perspective: he was taken one year before the Texans drafted Deshaun Watson.
We know how that story ended. Whitley's is yet to be written.
"I feel like the expectations were fair," Whitley noted. "I feel like I'm pretty good - I still am pretty good. I've evolved so much, even from the time everybody thought I was really touted. And I do get frustrated, I still get frustrated - but I think that's human nature with all this. It's important to keep a solid base, keep a solid foundation - have people to go to, people to talk to."
While only one qualifies as people, Forrest points to his fiancée, Courtney, and his dog Luna for helping him navigate years of adversity. Now an admitted different person at age 25, Whitley will rely upon what has not evolved to help him finally break into the majors: his ability to pitch.
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"Just keep throwing," Whitley said when asked how he manages tribulations. "Every time I see myself throw, I feel like I have a pretty good chance. I like my stuff. I feel like my stuff stacks up just as good as anybody's."
It's his stuff that turned him into a hotshot prospect.
Forrest Whitley hopes the 'other' stuff will end up as a footnote in a journey that eventually lands him in the majors.
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