Throughout this offseason, we’re reviewing each of the 316 players to appear in Houston’s system through the 2022 campaign.
Ronel Blanco is a six-foot, 180 lb. right-handed pitcher from Santiago, DR. Born on August 31, 1993, Blanco signed his first professional deal on August 26, 2016 to play for the Astros.
Through the first several seasons of Blanco’s career, he played for several of Houston’s farm clubs. He appeared with the DSL Astros Blue and GCL Astros at the rookie level, the Tri-City ValleyCats in Short-Season-A, the Quad Cities River Bandits at the Single-A level, the Buses Creek Astros at the High-A level, the Corpus Christi Hooks at the Double-A level, the Round Rock Express at the Triple-A level, and in 2021 the Sugar Land Skeeters, also at the Triple-A level.
Prior to the minor leagues opening day to start 2022, the Astros purchased Blanco’s contract from the minors. He made his major league debut on April 8, striking out one batter and giving up one run on two hits over 1 1⁄3 innings.
Through the month of April, Blanco appeared in seven games for Houston. Over 6 1⁄3 innings of work, he collected seven strikeouts and walked four. He surrendered eight hits and five earned runs, finishing with a 1.895 WHIP. On May 2, he was sent down to the newly named Sugar Land Space Cowboys.
Blanco spent the rest of the season with Sugar Land, and played in 44 games for the team. On September 22, he struck out three over two perfect innings in a 4-3 loss to the Albuquerque Isotopes. He posted a 4-7 record overall with a 3.63 ERA, with 58 strikeouts in 44 2⁄3 innings. He posted a 1.209 WHIP and held the opposition to a .224/.310/.432 line, walking only 23. Runners were successful stealing 80 percent of the time against him, but there were only five attempts through the season.
After the season, the Astros moved Blanco back to the 40-man roster, so it’s clear they have a plan for him going forward. At 29, it’s likely they see him mostly as organization depth. In the next-man-up nature of today’s MLB, he could end up with a more significant role in time.