One of baseball’s top prospects, Forrrest Whitley of the Houston Astros, has been suspended for 50 games for a positive drug test.*
Whitley, 20, was the Astros’ first round pick in 2016. He’s a right-hander who posted a 2.83 ERA with 143 strikeouts in 92.1 innings across three different levels of the Astros’ minor league system in 2017. He finished the year at Double-A Corpus Christi and appeared to be on track to make his major league debut at some point this season. He’s a consensus top-10 prospect in all of Major League Baseball.
No word on what the drug was for which he tested positive, but this is likely to delay his arrival in the bigs.
*This initially read “for a drug of abuse,” which a reporter had tweeted. The official MLB press release did not specify the drug, however, or say “drug of abuse.” Normally, a PED suspension states the substance found, and “drug of abuse” suspensions do not. As such, it’s unclear at present what Whitley tested positive for.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.