Chad Donato was the unsung leader of the WVU baseball pitching staff in the 2016 season.
The junior was consistent all year long and logged some solid innings for the Mountaineers on the heroic late-season run to the Big 12 Championship game.
Donato now has a chance to prove his worth at the professional level.
With the 337th pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, the Houston Astros selected Donato. It was the 11th round and he was the first Mountaineers to be picked.
It was the best case scenario for Donato as he grew up in the Houston-area rooting for the Astos as a child. He truly will be living out a lifelong dream as a member of the Astros organization.
"“I am more than blessed to be picked in the 2016 draft, and better yet by my hometown team, the Houston Astros,” said Donato. “It’s been my lifelong dream to become a professional baseball player. I want to thank all of my coaches along the way and especially the West Virginia family and staff. Thank you for everything you’ve done to make my lifelong dream come true”"
It won’t be an easy path, however. Donato, who still has the opportunity to return to Morgantown for his senior season on the WVU baseball team, is lightyears away from pitching at Minute Maid Park.
Donato, should he choose to sign a rookie contract, will likely begin his professional campaign with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the New York-Penn League. The ValleyCats, based in Albany, N.Y., will face the West Virginia Black Bears, the NYPL team based in Morgantown, this season.
The Black Bears have played just one season but have seen several former Mountaineers come through town as members of an opposing team.
Donato will get that chance this summer once he officially joins the Astros organization.
Donato, who officially hails from Cypress, Texas, boasted a record in 15 starts with one complete game. He struck out 111 batters in just over 96 innings pitched with the Mountaineers this season, which was fifth most in program history.
Picked on Day 3 of the MLB Draft, Donato wasn’t the only collegiate pitcher selected in that session by the Astros. Houston also took Michigan’s Carmen Benedetti in Round 13.