WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Houston Astros minor league pitcher Forrest Whitley has been suspended for 50 games without pay for a violation of baseball’s minor league drug prevention and treatment program.

Whitley, who is considered one of Houston’s top prospects, is on the roster for Double-A Corpus Christi. His suspension will begin at the start of the Texas League season.

“Obviously as an organization we’re going to suffer a little bit, but we’re still hopeful and optimistic that Forrest can be a big part of our future,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said.

The 20-year-old Whitley was selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2016 amateur player draft by the Astros. The right-hander played at three minor league levels last season, finishing with Corpus Christi where he had a 1.84 ERA in four games.

He was expected to reach the majors by next season, but there was a chance that he could have made his debut this year. Luhnow said missing so much time will likely slow his development, but he added that if things go well once he returns the suspension wouldn’t keep the Astros from bringing him up later this season.

Luhnow wouldn’t provide details on what led to the suspension, but he did say Whitley was remorseful and he believes he will learn from his mistake.

“On the pitching side I don’t have any concerns, he’s going to continue to develop and this is part of maturity,” Luhnow said. “When you’re a high school player and you get drafted and you’re a top prospect there’s a lot of pressure that goes along with that role. And I don’t know if that had anything to do with this, but there’s a maturation process going from high school and the big leagues and this is one step along the way for him.”

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