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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Baseball

A look at UH baseball alumni in the MLB a quarter into the 2020 season


UH baseball alumnus Aaron Fletcher was drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2018 after averaging 2.06 ERA for the Cougars from 2015-18. | File Photo

UH baseball alumnus Aaron Fletcher was drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2018 after averaging a 2.06 ERA for the Cougars from 2015-18. | File Photo

After months of negotiations between commissioner Rob Manfred and the MLB Players Association, the 2020 baseball season is finally underway.

While games look different with no fans in the stadium, and players who are not active for the day are encouraged to socially distance throughout the ballpark, there are a few familiar faces who played for the Houston baseball team that made an MLB team’s 60-man player pool this season.

Here is a look at some former UH players who are currently members of major league organizations and where they stand within their respective organization:

Daniel Ponce de Leon

After starting the season in the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen, the 6-foot-3-inch right-handed pitcher, who played for the Cougars in 2013, was moved into the Cardinals’ starting rotation after starting pitcher Miles Mikolas suffered a season-ending forearm strain.

So far on the season, Ponce de Leon has a 6.75 ERA with eight strikeouts.

Ponce de Leon was scheduled to make his second start of the season this past Friday, but it was pushed back due to the postponement of Cardinals games through at least Aug. 12 because of the COVID-19 outbreak within the team.

Austin Pruitt

After spending three years as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays posting a 4.87 ERA, the Woodlands native was traded to the Houston Astros in the offseason.

Pruitt, who spent 2012 and 2013 as a member of the Cougars, was set to play a big role out of the Astros bullpen this season until he suffered an elbow injury in spring training.

Currently, the 5-foot-1-inch right-hander is on the 45-day injured list and will not be making his Astros debut until September at the earliest.

Aaron Fletcher

The Cypress native, who played for the Cougars from 2015-18 and posted a career 2.06 ERA with UH, was drafted by the Washington Nationals in 2018 and was later traded to the Seattle Mariners in July 2019.

With the 2020 minor league season canceled, each team is allowed to have a 60-man player pool with 28 players being on a team’s active roster.

The remaining players are to report to an alternate training site to workout and play in intrasquad games.

Fletcher, who was named to Seattle’s 60-man player pool, is currently pitching in Tacoma, Washington, the Mariners secondary training site, and general manager Jerry Dipoto has reported that the 6-foot left-hander has “been better and better each outing.”

Connor Wong

The Pearland native, who was a member of the UH baseball program from 2015-17, is one of the Boston Red Sox’s most highly regarded prospects.

The Red Sox acquired Wong this past offseason as a result of the blockbuster trade that sent Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Though Wong’s primary position is catcher, he is known for his versatility as he can also play second base, shortstop and third base.

Currently, Wong is a member of Boston’s taxi squad, but was at Fenway Park with the team over the weekend and took batting practice signifying that he could be called up to the Red Sox’s active roster soon.

Patrick Weigel

The 6-foot-6-inch right-handed pitcher, who played for the Cougars in 2015 and posted a 3.38 ERA in 23 appearances, is currently on the Atlanta Braves’ 40-man roster, but is not a member of their 28-man active squad.

Weigel is currently at the Braves’ alternate training site, but the possibility of him making his big-league debut is certainly not out of the picture since Atlanta has recently lost some key pitchers to injury.

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