ROUND ROCK, Texas — The top pitching prospect in all of baseball, Forrest Whitley, was informed he was selected 17th overall by the Houston Astros in 2016 while he was on the mound in a state semifinal game against Georgetown.
That UIL State Tournament game took place at Dell Diamond in Round Rock.
"First time I've been here since I was drafted," said Whitley.
Funny how that worked out -- back at the Dell Diamond after just two seasons working his way up in the Astros farm system.
He spent a portion of last season with the Astros' AA club, the Corpus Christi Hooks.
"I've been fortunate the past couple of years being in Corpus and now here. Just being a couple of hours away from home makes it easy for family to come see me," said Whitley.
In just 92 innings last season, the native of Alamo Heights in San Antonio delivered 143 stikeouts.
"We could stick Forrest in the big leagues right now and he would probably be fine, but there's still some development there; there's still some growth," said Express manager Mickey Storey.
The 21-year-old was invited by the Astros to spring training, but the reason he's in Round Rock is to improve pitching selection and pitch development while maintaining his elite-level fastball.
"I hope we get to keep for a decent amount of time, he's that good," said Storey.
Until he is called up to join Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander in Houston, Whitley will enjoy time with his family every day. He lives with his sister in Austin. His sister went to UT and his brother went to St. Edward's University.
"I like it here, it's a beautiful area. Great food town -- I love food, so I'm going to enjoy it while I'm here," said Whitley.
A fastball-hurling foodie.
Whitley is a perfect fit in Austin and in Round Rock..
"We just want that guy when he gets to Houston to never look back," said Storey.
Whitley made his debut on the AAA level Tuesday night in the Express opener against Nashville.
In five innings of work, Whitley gave up two runs on four hits and struck out seven in the 3-1 loss to Nashville.