The Astros joined over half the league in passing on the big league phase of the Rule 5 draft, and also avoided losing any players as top candidates Shay Whitcomb and Justin Dirden went unselected. There was more action in the Triple-A phase, in both directions- Cleveland selected Astros righthander Tyler Brown, a 3rd round pick in 2020 out of Vanderbilt. Brown’s pitch data has long been enviable, but struggles with command and consistency have led to mostly poor statistical results in pro ball. The 25 year old was improved in 2023, but he continues to walk a lot of batters. That said, with a bit more improvement, he could well become a big league relief arm, and he’ll be in a better environment to make that transition for a retooling Guardians organization.
Later in the first round of the Triple-A phase, the Astros made a selection of their own, picking Railin Perez out of the Red Sox organization. Perez is just 22 years old, but took a lot of time to climb out of the complex level after being signed as a 16 year old. Already a pure reliever himself, Perez has a lanky 185 lb. build at 6’3” and a very live arm. His explosive, up tempo delivery isn’t always well synced which hurts his command, but he can miss bats with both his fastball and sweeping slider. Despite shaky location, he posted a 3.70 ERA in 56 frames this past season, striking out 69. It will be a big jump up to Triple-A for Perez, but his stuff will play there. Despite his inexperience stateside, the only real obstacle for him is improving the consistency of his command.
In the 2nd round of the phase, the Astros lost two more players- Kervin Castro, who the team just signed recently, and longtime farmhand Marty Costes. It’s a bit sad to see Costes, who has been a system fixture for awhile now, on the way out, but his development seemed stagnant in 2023. He’s a solid outfielder who makes a lot of contact with massive raw power, but an inability to translate that power into game settings to this point. At age 27, it’s fair to question if that will ever end up happening.
The Astros opted to select another player with their second turn of the phase, picking up another right hander in the Phillies’ Carlos Betancourt. A wiry 6’1”, 165, Betancourt has a more balanced profile than that of Perez. The 22 year old Venezuelan has a three pitch mix of fastball, breaking ball and changeup, and typically sits in the low 90s. In his two campaigns in full season ball, Betancourt has collected 143 strikeouts in 123 and 1⁄3 innings, while allowing less than a hit per inning. His stuff is relatively vanilla, but it’s hard to argue with his production to this point, and he’ll only be skipping one level after spending 2023 in High-A ball. If he handles that jump well, he could put himself in the big league mix rather quickly, as his profile lacks a major weakness.