As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we'll be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Astros camp, it was Forrest Whitley, Houston's No. 5 prospect (MLBPipeline.com's No. 84 overall).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Astros viewed Whitley as one of the better prep hurlers in the 2016 Draft, and the club was thrilled to find the Alamo Heights High (San Antonio, Texas) right-hander still on the board when it came time to make their first pick (No. 17 overall). The recipient of a $3,148,000 signing bonus, Whitley began his pro career in the Gulf Coast League before capping his year with four impressive starts for Greeneville in the Appalachian League.
MLBPipeline.com: This obviously is the first time we've met, and I have to say that I'm really having trouble believing that you weigh anything close to the 240 pounds you're listed at. What's up with that?
• Astros' Top 30 Prospects list
Whitley: I've lost a lot of weight as I've grown taller and learned to improve my body. I'm about 200 pounds now. But, yeah, not too long ago I weighed 260.
MLBPipeline.com: How do you think your experience on the summer showcase circuit and pitching for the Team USA 18U national team prepared you for your pro debut?
Whitley: Obviously when you're on that circuit you're facing the best hitters in the country, so that alone prepped me very well. From that I learned the importance of working my pitches and understanding counts, throwing all your pitches for strikes but also throw balls when you need to throw balls -- things like that. I'd say it all prepared me just fine.
MLBPipeline.com: Where were you/what were you doing when you were drafted?
Whitley: I was actually playing in a game when it happened. I saw my dad come down to the dugout after I came in from the third or fourth inning, and he relayed the information to one of my teammates who then told me. It was incredible, and I'd be lying if I said I that I hadn't been thinking about it during the game.
MLBPipeline.com: Did you know that the Astros were going to take you with the No. 17 pick?
Whitley: I knew the Astros were in the mix, but I had no idea that they'd be first on the list, you know? I was super excited after they picked me, because it's the closest possible option to San Antonio.
MLBPipeline.com: I know it's early in the spring (and your career), but is there anything specific you're working on in camp right now?
• Astros Spring Training report
Whitley: I sat down with our pitching coordinator Doug White yesterday and went over some things. We talked about calming down my tempo and making everything even, and then he showed me some clips of Roger Clemens. I like to throw with intent; he wants me to keep that intent but find a way to ease up a little in order to take some of that stress off of my arm and body. That meeting really helped a lot and kind of set things off, and that's what I was working on today in my first live BP session. I'd say those are the big things I'm working on for 2017.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.