Throughout the soon-to-come offseason, we’ll be reviewing every player to appear in Houston’s system through the 2022 campaign.
Chad Donato is a six-foot, 195 lb. right-handed starting pitcher from Cypress, TX. Born on June 3, 1995, he was an 11th round choice by Houston in the 2016 draft, 337th overall. Six players have made the majors after being drafted in that spot, most notably Nathan Eovaldi.
Donato worked his way up through Houston’s system, splitting the 2021 season between the Sugar Land Space Cowboys at Triple-A and the Corpus Christi Hooks at Double-A and totaling a 3-5 record and a 4.50 ERA. He struck out 52 in 56 innings of work, and had a solid 1.214 WHIP to show for it. After the season, he joined the Arizona Fall League, where he was made available for this interview.
Donato started 2022 with the Space Cowboys, impressing right away with his first start of the season, against the Sacramento River Cats on April 9. He struck out six and walked three, allowing no runs on one hit over six innings in an eventual 1-0 Sugar Land victory. On June 26 against the Tacoma Rainiers, he gave up one run on two walks and three hits, striking out four over six innings in a 3-2 Cowboys win.
The 2022 season would see Donato spend the entire campaign with the Cowboys, where he started in 18 games and came out of the bullpen an additional 11 times. He was 4-8 with a 5.34 ERA, 101 K’s in 124 2⁄3 innings, and a 1.460 WHIP. Opponents drew a .252/.337/.443 slash line against him, stealing 11 bases in 15 tries.
Donato is a possible left-handed specialist if he gets to the majors, as his peripherals are much better against lefties. They were held to a .219/.304/.372 line in 224 plate appearances. Other than that, Houston’s staff is just too crowded to make room for him. If retained, he’ll likely start next year back with Sugar Land.
Jose Betances is a six-foot, 170 lb. right-handed reliever from Salcedo, DR. Born on October 17, 1999, he was signed to a deal with Houston through free agency on July 2, 2017.
Betances spent three seasons at the Rookie-level, culminating in an 11.64 ERA in 2019. This was due mostly to his walk-rate of 16.8/9. After taking 2020 off with everyone else, he joined the Low-A Fayetteville Woodpeckers in 2021. He got his walk-rate down to less than one per-inning, but still hit 14 batters and issued eight wild pitches in just 38 2⁄3 innings. He struck out 53 and gave up a 1.707 WHIP.
Betances would start the 2022 season with the Peckers, walking 10 but whiffing 22 in only 11 1⁄3 innings for a solid if a little weird .108/.333/.135 opposing slash line and a 2.38 ERA. On April 23, in a 6-2 win against the Augusta Greenjackets, he earned his second save of the season by striking out six against two walks in 2 2⁄3 scoreless and hitless innings of work.
On May 7, Betances made his first and thus-far only appearance at the Double-A level with the Corpus Christi Hooks, where he gave up four runs (two earned) on one hit and four walks over two innings.
Betances then joined the High-A Asheville Tourists for the rest of the season. On August 7, in a 3-2 win against the Hickory Crawdads, he earned his first win of the season by striking out three over two perfect innings.
Despite Betances’ apparent control problems, he finished the season very strong. Through his last five appearances, he struck out 13 in 8 2⁄3 innings, walking two and allowing only one hit. Across the three levels, his aggregate opposing slash line was again a strange looking one — .171/.402/.223.
Betances is an intriguing proposition. If he can curb his wildness, he could someday be a dominant major league middle reliever. As it stands, look for him to start next season in a Corpus Christi uniform.