Forrest Whitley shines in season debut at Triple-A Sugar Land

Could this be the year for Forrest Whitley to reach the major leagues with the Houston Astros?

Whitley, from Alamo Heights High School, is off to a good start.

Pitching for the Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboys on Thursday, the 25-year-old righthander made his season debut out of the bullpen and retired the first 10 batters he faced, striking out two.

Whitley (1-0) was credited with the win in Sugar Land’s 5-2 victory over Round Rock. The 6-7 righthander worked four innings and allowed one run on four hits. He struck out four and walked one.

He was drafted in 2016 by the Astros out of Alamo Heights. The Astros selected him in the first round with the 17th overall pick.

Through seven years in the minors, he has battled through injuries and assorted adversities to a 10-17 record a 4.97 ERA.

With the minor-league baseball season underway, here’s a look at some of the other notable players from the San Antonio and South Texas area:

Tristan Stivors: Named to the opening-day roster of the High-A Winston-Salem Dash, an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. The 24-year-old righthander pitched four games last season, split between the White Sox’ Rookie and Single A levels. The Sox selected him on the 16th round of the 2022 draft after a season at Texas State University in which he led the Bobcats to the NCAA tournament and was named first-team All American as a closer. Stivors played in the San Antonio area at Medina Valley High School.

Asa Lacy: Started the season on the 7-day injured list at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, a Kansas City Royals affiliate. Lacy is 4-7 with a 7.09 ERA in two minor league seasons. The Royals selected Lacy with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Texas A&M University. He pitched previously at Kerrville Tivy High School.

James McArthur: Opened as a starting pitcher at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The 6-foot-7, 26-year-old righthander is starting his fifth season in the minors. He is 9-20 with a 4.31 earned run average. McArthur was selected in in the 2018 draft on the 12th round by the Phillies out of Ole Miss. Played in high school at New Braunfels.

Justin Lange: Assigned to the Tampa Tarpons, a Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees. Lange is a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher. He is 3-4 with a 6.63 earned run average over two previous seasons in the minors. Traded from the San Diego Padres organization to the Yankees in March 2022. Lange was drafted 34th overall by the Padres out of Llano High School in 2020. Native of Fredericksburg.

Nick Fraze: Started the season with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. Fraze, a 25-year-old, right-handed pitcher, picked up his first victory of the season in two innings of relief. He is 8-8 with a 3.44 earned run average as a professional. Drafted in the 22nd round in 2019 by the Blue Jays out of Texas State University in San Marcos. Played at Hebron High School.

Bryan Arias: Has played two games at Triple-A Sugar Land. Arias is in his fifth year and fourth season in the minors. He toiled last season for Double-A Corpus Christi, playing in 92 games and batting .220. He played at San Antonio’s Marshall High School and in college for the UTSA Roadrunners. Drafted in the 28th round in 2019 out of UTSA.

David Hamilton: Made his 2023 debut at shortstop with the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox. Known for his speed, Hamilton has stolen 124 bases in two seasons in the minors. He was traded in December 2021 from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Boston Red Sox organization. Hamilton was drafted out of the University of Texas in 2019. He went in the eighth round to the Brewers. Hamilton played at San Marcos High School.

Jordan Westburg: Opened the year with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. The 24-year-old infielder, entering his fourth year in the minors, is a career .273 hitter, with 43 home runs and 189 RBIs. He was drafted 30th overall by the Orioles in 2020 out of Mississippi State University. He previously played for New Braunfels High School.

Jace Jung: Started the season with the High-A West Michigan Whitecaps. Jung was a 2022 first-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers out of Texas Tech University. The younger brother of Texas Rangers third baseman Josh Jung played in high school at MacArthur High School.

Dalton Shuffield: Homered in his season debut Thursday for the Single-A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. Shuffield is in his second year in the minor leagues with the Minnesota Twins organization. Shuffield hit .271 across three levels last year, which included 14 games at Triple-A St. Paul. Drafted in 2022 by the Twins on the 10th round out of Texas State University. He previously played at Johnson High School in San Antonio.

Jalen Battles: Named to start at shortstop Friday for the Charleston River Dogs. Battles played five games at the rookie league level last year and is starting this season at Single-A in Charleston, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays affiliate. He made a name for himself as a shortstop at the University of Arkansas, an NCAA Division I powerhouse. Drafted by the Rays in the fifth round in 2022. Previously played in San Antonio at Madison High School.

Hudson Head: Started in center field at High A Greensboro, N.C., with the Greensboro Grasshoppers, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 22-year-old outfielder from Churchill is starting his fourth season in the minors. He hit 15 home runs at Single A Bradenton in 2021 and another 10 at Greensboro last season. Selected in the third round of the 2019 draft by the San Diego Padres. Traded to the Pirates, in January of 2021.

Chasing the dream: San Antonio-area players in the minor leagues

With professional baseball from Single-A on up to Triple-A in full swing starting tonight, here is a look at San Antonio area talent in the minor leagues:

Josh Jung/INF/Round Rock Express/Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers/from San Antonio MacArthur High School and Texas Tech University. Jung, the eighth overall pick in the 2019 draft, hit .326 with 19 homers combined in Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock last summer. Jung is on the injured list following left shoulder surgery in February.

David Hamilton/INF/Portland Sea Dogs/Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox/from San Marcos HS and the University of Texas. Picked in the 8th round of the 2019 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. Traded by the Brewers with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Alex Binelas to the Red Sox Hunter Renfroe on Dec. 1, 2021.

Hudson Head/OF/Greensboro Grasshoppers/High-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates/from San Antonio Churchill HS. Selected in the third round of the 2019 draft by the San Diego Padres. Traded to the Pirates, in January of 2021.

Ralph Garza Jr./RHP/Worcester Red Sox/Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox/from New Braunfels HS/the University of Oklahoma. Selected in the 26th round of the 2015 draft by the Houston Astros.

Jonathan Hennigan/RHP/Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies/from Texas State University. Selected by the Phillies in the 21st round of the 2016 draft.

James McArthur/RHP/Reading Phillies/Double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies/from New Braunfels HS/Ole Miss. McArthur was selected in the 12th round by the Phillies in 2018.

Bryan Arias/INF/Corpus Christi Hooks/Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros/from San Antonio Marshall High School and UTSA. Arias was drafted by the Astros in the 28th round in 2019.

Asa Lacy/LHP/Northwest Arkansas Naturals/Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals/from Kerrville Tivy HS and Texas A&M. Lacy was the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2020 draft out of A&M.

Forrest Whitley/RHP/Sugar Land Space Cowboys/Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros/from Alamo Heights HS. Whitley, the 17th overall pick in the first round of the 2016 draft out of Alamo Heights, is on the injured list.

Justin Anderson/RHP/Round Rock Express/Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers/from Houston St. Pius X HS and UTSA. Anderson was a 14th-round draft pick by the Angels out of UTSA in 2014. He pitched for the Angels in the major leagues for parts of the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Jordan Westburg/INF/Bowie Baysox/Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles/from New Braunfels High School and Mississippi State. Westburg was the 30th overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Mississippi State.

Palmer Wenzel/RHP/Asheville Tourists/High-A affiliate of the Houston Astros/from Boerne Champion HS/UTSA and the University of Texas.

Nick Fraze/RHP/New Hampshire Fisher Cats/Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays/from Carrollton, Hebron HS and Texas State University.

Zachary Leigh/RHP/South Bend Cubs/High-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs/from Victoria East High School/Texas State University.

Hunter McMahon/RHP/Fort Myers Mighty Mussels/Single A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins/from Staley HS in Kansas City, Mo., and Texas State University. Ninth round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2019.

Brayden Theriot/RHP/Charleston RiverDogs/Single A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays/from Sugar Land Elkins High School and Texas State University.

Justin Lange/RHP/Tampa Tarpons/Single A affiliate of the New York Yankees/from Fredericksburg and Llano High School. Drafted 34th overall on the second round of the 2020 draft by the San Diego Padres. Traded by the Padres to the New York Yankees organization for 1B Luke Voit on March 18.