Throughout this offseason, we’re taking a look at all 316 players to appear at any level of the Houston Astros organization in 2022.
Daniel Pacheco is a five-foot-10, 214 lb. right-handed pitcher from Puerto Ordaz, VZ. Born on December 4, 2001, Pacheco signed with the Astros on July 2, 2018. In 2019, he got his most extensive minor league experience to date, appearing in eight games for the DSL Astros, including three starts.
Pacheco walked 15 and struck out 16 in 22 1⁄3 innings, allowing 16 earned runs on 28 hits. Opponents got ahold of him for a .322 batting average, although he only surrendered two extra base hits out of that total. Basestealers were only successful taking a base against him on two of seven attempts.
Pacheco didn’t appear in any minor league contests for Houston through 2020 or through 2021, reemerging on the field for the FCL Astros Orange squad in 2022. The results weren’t very good. Pacheco walked eight and allowed 10 earned runs on four hits over just three innings of work for an inimitable 4.000 WHIP in a small sample size. All four of his appearances came in the last few weeks of the season, suggesting that it was likely rehab. With that in mind, look for Pacheco to get another go at the FCL level to start the 2023 campaign.
Rhett Kouba is a six-foot, 180 lb. right-handed pitcher from Woodward, OK. Born on September 3, 1999, Kouba was Houston’s 12th round pick in the 2021 June draft, with the 358th overall selection out of Dallas Baptist University. Seven players have made it to the majors after being chosen at that spot, most notably John Jaha.
Kouba joined Dallas Baptist in 2021 after two seasons at junior college. A starter/reliever, he caught Houston’s eye after going 6-2 with 87 whiffs in 74 2⁄3 innings, along with a 1.11 WHIP. After the draft, he struck out seven in five innings with the rookie level FCL Astros, then joined the Fayetteville Woodpeckers at Low-A for a few appearances. He looked good in Low-A, racking up a 0.900 WHIP in 13 1⁄3 innings, striking out 13 batters and walking only one.
In 2022, Kouba started the year out with Fayetteville, and played in four games for them, including three starts. He logged 20 strikeouts in 15 frames. His best game was on May 31, when he struck out eight and allowed no runs on two hits over four innings of relief in a 9-0 victory against the Fredericksburg Nationals.
The Low-A level seemingly in hand, Kouba was promoted to High-A in early June to the Asheville Tourists, for whom he started six times and appeared another seven times out of the pen. Although his WHIP increased to 1.413, Kouba still struck out over a batter-per-inning, whiffing 57 through 51 2/3 against 21 bases-on-balls. In another 9-0 victory, this time against the Winston-Salem Dash on August 24, Kouba again whiffed eight over four shutout innings, earning no-decision despite holding the Dash to only two hits.
Kouba is moving more-or-less on par with what we would expect from a mid-level prospect. A logical timeline would see him challenging for a bullpen role with the Astros possible as early as late-2024.