UT pitcher Sam LeCure is congratulated by teammates as he returns to the dugout in the fourth inning of the Super Regionals final with Vanderbilt at Disch-Falk Field in June 2004. (Photo by Larry Kolvoord/American-Statesman)

BEVO BEAT Baseball

Longhorns in the MLB: Spring training nears as hot stove cools

Posted January 20th, 2016


Last week, former Longhorn pitcher Sam LeCure’s tenure with the Cincinnati Reds came to an end when the 31-year-old reliever agreed to join the Diamondbacks.

LeCure had spent his entire career with the Reds and in 2013 had a career-best 2.66 ERA in 63 appearances.

With 28 days left until pitchers like LeCure report to spring training, it’s a good time to break down which former Longhorns are expected to make opening day major league rosters this year or have been invited to major league camps.

Here’s a complete list of former Texas players who have been drafted, including many who are still in the minors and have yet to make their MLB debuts.

(Years at Texas in parenthesis)

First baseman Brandon Belt (2008-09) is coming off his best season as a professional and started in 137 games for the Giants in 2015. He batted .280 and will enter spring training as the starting first baseman for the Giants.

Outfielder Jordan Danks (2006-08recently signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers and will compete for a roster spot with the loaded Rangers. Danks broke into the MLB in 2012 with the Phillies, posting a .224/.300/.322 slash line. With the Rangers full to the brim with outfielders, Danks may be slated for Triple-A Round Rock, which is where he played his high school ball.

Relief pitcher J.P. Howell (2003-04will pitch out of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bullpen after a standout 2015, when he posted a 1.43 ERA in 44 innings  for the Dodgers.

Starting pitcher Taylor Jungmann (2009-11) is currently slated for the Milwaukee Brewer’s rotation this season. The former Longhorn standout, who was taken 12th overall in 2011, posted a 9-8 record with the Brewers with a 3.77 ERA in 119.1 innings. He struck out 107 batters.

Relief pitcher Corey Knebel (2011-13) is also with the Brewers after bouncing between the Tigers (who drafted him in 2013) and the Texas Rangers in 2013 and 2014. The Rangers traded him to the Brewers last season, and he went on to post a 3.22 ERA in 59.0 innings.

1/29/03 Staff Photo by Sung Park/AMERICAN-STATESMAN Huston Street, pitcher for Texas Longhorn baseball.
Huston Street, pictured in 2003 with the Longhorns, has 315 career saves since making his MLB debut in 2005. (Photo by Sung Park/American-Statesman)

Left-handed pitcher Andrew McKirahan (2009-11) made his major league debut with the Atlanta Braves last season, pitching in 27.1 innings and striking out 22 batters. He also served an 80-game suspension for PEDs. He is projected to make the Braves’ opening-day roster as a reliever.

Catcher Cameron Rupp (2008-10) is projected to start for the Philadelphia Phillies this season. Rupp batted .233 with nine home runs in 270 at-bats. He played in 81 games in 2015, replacing 37-year-old Carlos Ruiz.

Left-handed pitcher James Russell (2007) pitched in 49 games with a 5.29 ERA for the Chicago Cubs in 2015 and was invited to Phillies spring training back in November. His best season came in 2014, when he had a 2.97 ERA in 66 appearances.

Closer Huston Street (2002-04) has enjoyed the best career of any active former Longhorn in the MLB.  Street saved 40 games for the Los Angeles Angels last season and finished with a 3.18 ERA. Now 32, Street has 315 career saves since making his debut in 2005 and has a career 2.85 ERA.

Outfielder Drew Stubbs (2004-06) was the only former Longhorn who played postseason baseball in 2015, where he played with the Rangers. But a month away before spring training starts, Stubbs is a free agent looking for a team.  Since breaking into the majors with the Cincinnati Reds, Stubbs has played for the Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies and Rangers. He was 1-for-4 in the postseason for the Rangers.

Relief pitcher Brandon Workman (2008-10) is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is expected to return to the Boston Red Sox at some point this season. He allowed one run in 8 2/3 innings of postseason baseball in 2013.

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