We’re reviewing all 316 players from Houston’s system in 2022.
Cole McDonald is a six-foot-one, 218 lb. left-handed pitcher from New Hampton, IA. Born on March 11, 1997, he was a 15th-round pick of Houston in 2019, with the 466th overall choice. Five players chosen at that spot have made the majors, led by James Shields (30.7 WAR). Chosen out of the University of Iowa, McDonald could be the 14th Hawkeye to make the big leagues.
McDonald spent his time after the draft mainly with the short-season-A Tri-City ValleyCats, and pitched 24 1⁄3 innings over nine games with them. In 2021, he was limited by injury to only four appearances, three with the Rookie-level FCL Astros and one with the High-A Asheville Tourists.
The 2022 campaign would see McDonald spend the entire season with the Tourists. He was ready right from the start. In his first appearance, on April 8, he struck out four over two shutout innings in a 9-2 loss to the Bowling Green Hot Rods. On April 30, he whiffed another six over just four shutout one-hit frames in a 10-4 loss to the Winston-Salem Dash. On July 28, McDonald struck out the side twice in two innings, allowing no runs on one hit while striking out six in a 7-6 win against the Aberdeen Ironbirds.
McDonald struck out an incredible 100 batters in 60 1⁄3 innings, including an August in which he racked up 20.5 K/9. Unfortunately, he also put up a 1.840 WHIP and an opposing slashline of .259/.393/.420 over 291 plate appearances. He ended up posting a 2-6 record with a 6.86 ERA. He also walked 50 and threw 18 wild pitches, so there’s a bit of a control issue to work on before he earns a look at Double-A. Look for him to begin the 2023 season back with Asheville to start with.