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Sunday, May 28, 2023


Commentary: A look at baseball’s incoming freshmen class

As the offseason is officially underway, the coaching staff gets ready to welcome the next batch of players that will play for head coach Todd Whitting.

While the regular season was in progress, Houston’s scouting staff, led by coach Trip Couch, was busy, searching throughout Texas for the next group of Cougars.

The search accumulated a total of 11 players signed – five pitchers, two outfielders, two utility players, one catcher and one infielder.

Houston’s future players show promise as some of the prospects have accomplished notable feats throughout their high school years such as catcher Joe Davis from Austin Bowie High School and Klein Oak High School pitching prospect Tanner Lawson.

The switch-hitting Davis was ranked second in the state as a catcher and sixth in the nation at his position, and was recently drafted in the 16th round by the Tampa Bay Rays, so it will be interesting to see if he forgoes the pros for time at Houston.

Hitting wise, Davis led Texas in home runs and won the 2014 Area Code Home Run Derby.

Lawson was prolific in his time at Klein Oak, pitching a perfect game in his freshman year and a no hitter in his sophomore year all while playing for Coach Bo Hernandez, a former UH starter.

Joining Lawson at Houston will be another Klein Oak pitcher, Nolan Bond, a right-handed pitcher who ranked 35th in the state.

Houston’s pitching rotation is buoyed  by freshman starting-pitcher, Seth Romero, who developed nicely this season as a starter. However, Houston may be in for a treat in pitching dominance as Romero will now share the mound with Lawson and Bond, as well as incoming freshman pitcher and former Co-Player of the Year and All District MVP, Mitch Ullom, who comes in from Sweeny High School.

The incoming class of freshman promises to bring in a ton of athleticism, as it boasts a couple of multi-sports athletes.

Newly signed lefty pitcher Trey Cumbie is also the starting quarterback at Lufkin High School, and incoming outfielder Wendell Champion is the starting running back at St. Thomas High School.

Champion’s experience at running back will be sure to give Houston an advantage on the base paths, as well as the addition of utility player Grayson Padgett, who ran a 6.7 60-yard dash, according to Couch.

Padgett can also switch-hit, so he will be a weapon from the plate for the Cougars next season.

While their accomplishments look appealing on paper, once the incoming freshmen make the transition from high school to college, their skill and character will truly show.

Overall, with the newly signed prospects and the returners, the future seems bright for the Cougars in the 2016 season.

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