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Monday, November 30, 2020

Baseball

Multiple Houston baseball alumni reporting to MLB spring training 2.0


Left-handed pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon had 62 strikeouts against opposing batters in the 2013 season when he was with the Cougars. He is one of multiple Houston baseball alumni that are participating in the MLB's second spring training as it looks to prepare for its 60-game 2020 season . | Courtesy of UH Athletics

Left-handed pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon had 62 strikeouts against opposing batters in the 2013 season when he was with the Cougars. He is one of multiple Houston baseball alumni who are participating in the MLB’s second spring training as it looks to prepare for its 60-game 2020 season. | Courtesy of UH athletics

After countless negotiations, stall outs, promises and tweets along with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the MLB is finally inching closer to returning to the diamond as teams began reporting to sites for spring training 2.0 on Wednesday.  

The University already has a direct relationship with the MLB’s restart as Schroeder Park and the baseball team’s development facility will serve as the alternative site for the Houston Astros.

UH also has another connection across the entire league as numerous Houston baseball alumni will be preparing for the season.

Patrick Weigel of the Atlanta Braves, Austin Pruitt of the Houston Astros, Aaron Fletcher of the Seattle Mariners and Seth Romero of the Washington Nationals were all added to the spring training player pools for their respective teams and all spent time with the Cougars.

Additionally, Daniel Ponce de Leon of the St. Louis Cardinals, Marshall Kasowski of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Connor Wong of the Boston Red Sox were also added.

Here is a look back at a few of those players’ time at UH, and their progress since:

Patrick Weigel

The 6-foot-5-inch right-handed pitcher played for the Cougars for only one season in 2015, but made a significant impact, appearing in a team-high 23 games. He went 4-1 that year with a 3.38 ERA and struckout 45 different batters.

In his journey throughout the minors, he improved his career ERA to 3.15. He has a 23-13 record and has struckout 346 batters in his MiLB career.

Austin Pruit

The Woodlands native played for the Cougars in 2012 and 2013 averaging a 3.47 ERA during that time.

Pruit’s best season was in the 2013 season when he went 10-5 and had a strong 2.85 ERA in 15 appearances, which were all starts. During this year, he struckout 92 batters.

In 2017, Pruit made his MLB debut for the Tampa Bay Rays. His career ERA in the majors is 4.87

He was traded to the Astros in January, however, he will not be a part of the 22-man crew that will be working out at UH for the team.

Aaron Fletcher

The Cypress-native left-handed pitcher played from 2015-18 for UH, and was consistently dominant during those four seasons.

He had a career 2.06 ERA with the Cougars, striking out a total of 146 batters in that time. Fletcher won many awards with Houston, which includes the 2018 American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year.

After being drafted by the Nationals in 2018, he has played in the minors for two seasons and has maintained a career 2.33 ERA. 

He was traded to the Seattle Mariners organization in July 2019.

Seth Romero

The 6-foot-3-inch left-handed pitcher spent the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons with the Cougars before his time with the team came to an abrupt end.

In his two full seasons with the Cougars, he compiled a 2.13 ERA as he made 21 starts and struckout 205 batters.

While his start in the MiLB has not gone smoothly (career 4.37 ERA and a handful of injuries), the Nationals added him to their 60-man player pool for their spring training 2.0 in hopes of helping him progress along and tap into his potential.

At one point, this had him projected to be a top ten pick in the MLB draft.

Daniel Ponce de Leon

Despite only one full season with the Cougars in 2013, in which the 6-foot-4-inch right-handed pitcher had a 4.47 ERA in 15 starts, Ponce de Leon has made an impressive name for himself in the pros.

With a minor league career of a 2.70 ERA in 96 starts, he made his MLB debut in July 2018.

As a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, Ponce de Leon has appeared in 24 games, averaging a 3.31 ERA.

Marshall Kasowski

The 6-foot-3-inch right-handed pitcher spent two years with the Cougars. Although he only played in one full season in 2015 due to an injury that forced him to miss most of the 2016 campaign.

In 2015, Kasowski appeared in nine games, averaging a 2.12 ERA, striking out 18 batters.

The Conroe native was taken with the 400th pick in the 2017 MLB draft.

As a pro, he has maintained a 2.26 ERA in the MiLB and has appeared in 79 games. 

Connor Wong

The Pearland-native catcher was with Houston for three seasons from 2015-17.

He played in 184 games with the Cougars, accumulating a .280 batting average in his time with the program.

In 2017, Wong made the Second Team All-Conference in the AAC after hitting 12 homeruns and 36 RBI’s that season. 

He was the 100th overall pick in the 2017 draft when he was taken by the Dodgers, but was traded in February to the Red Sox as a part of the Mookie Bets and David Price deal.

In the minors, he’s maintained a .275 batting average throughout his MiLB career. In 40 games with Double-A Tulsa last season, he hit .349/.393/.604 with nine homeruns and 31 RBI’s.

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