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Monday, September 20, 2021

Baseball

Cougars in the MLB: How former UH baseball players have fared in 2021


Former Cougars like Daniel Ponce de Leon pitched for UH baseball in 2013 and is currently a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. | File Photo

Daniel Ponce de Leon pitched for UH baseball in 2013 and is currently a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. | File Photo

The Houston baseball program has had a number of players go on to play in the MLB over the years as these former Cougars are breaking into the big leagues.

The MLB has treated some Cougars better than others with a few players who manage to stick around and are continuing to play in the league now.

Here’s a look at the players that are currently on an MLB roster as of this season:

Daniel Ponce de Leon (St. Louis Cardinals)

Daniel Ponce de Leon has had the longest current career in the MLB after playing just a year at UH back in 2013.

As a Cougar, Ponce de Leon posted a 7-5 record with 62 strikeouts and a 4.47 ERA and was a top pitching prospect in Conference USA.

Ponce de Leon was taken 285th overall in the ninth round of the 2014 MLB draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, where he has remained for his four seasons in the MLB

Ponce de Leon had to make his way through the minors, climbing from Double-A to Triple-A and eventually up to the MLB four years later.

Ponce de Leon had a life-threatening injury in a Triple-A game in 2017 after being struck in the head by a line drive. Leon wrote a book about his comeback journey after the injury which culminated when he made his debut for the Cardinals on July 23, 2018.

Ponce de Leon, who is currently a member of the Cardinals bullpen, has made 47 career MLB appearances, posting a 4.24 ERA and striking out 143.

John King (Texas Rangers)

John King pitched for UH from 2016-17 and had a 14-5 record as a starter with a 3.28 ERA in his two years on the mound.

King’s 2017 campaign was his most impressive, posting an 8-1 record on the season with a 3.11 ERA while helping the Cougars secure an American Athletic Conference Championship and an NCAA Regional Tournament appearance.

King was drafted in the 10th round and 314th overall by the Texas Rangers in the 2017 draft and has since proven he has what it takes to be a pro in the MLB.

In his 2019 season with the Down East Wood Ducks King pitched six games and had a 2-4 record, but recorded 62 strikeouts and a 2.03 ERA, which landed him a spot on an MLB roster the following year.

The former Cougar made his MLB debut for the Rangers in 2020, winning his single start of the season.

King is seeing much more action in 2021 after establishing a key role in the Rangers bullpen. On the season, King is  5-4 record with a 2.25 ERA in 22 appearances.

Patrick Weigel (Milwaukee Brewers)

Weigel took the mound for the Cougars for just a season in 2015, going 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 45 strikeouts.

The single-year Cougar was 210th overall in the 2015 draft by the Atlanta Braves and made his debut in 2020 after bouncing around the Double-A and Triple-A rosters for several seasons.

Weigel managed one game in his rookie season and was soon traded to the Milwaukee Brewers back in April.

The 2021 season is still young, but Weigel has appeared in three games, posting a 4.50 ERA while striking out nine.

Time will tell whether Weigel will be able to find a home in the MLB, but with the right impression in Milwaukee, the potential to stay in the Majors is there for the former Cougar.

Aaron Fletcher (Seattle Mariners)

Aaron Fletcher pitched for the Cougars from 2015-2018 where he was decorated with honors and awards, the majority coming from his final season in 2018.

Fletcher was named to the American All-Academic Team three times and was named the American pitcher of the year his senior year. He pitched 94 innings and while doing so posted an impressive 2.19 ERA with 78 strikeouts, landing.

The 2018 campaign from Fletcher landed him in the 431st spot in the draft, going in the 14th round to the Washington Nationals in the 2018 draft.

Fletcher was then traded to the Seattle Mariners in 2019.

Fletcher bounced around the Double-A and Class-A leagues before making his debut on August 22, 2020, for the Mariners.

Fletcher struggled in the majors with just 10 games under his belt, posting a career ERA of 12.38 in the 10 games he appeared in.

Fletcher has since been brought down to Seattle’s AAA affiliate in Tacoma, Washington, he has pitched in seven games and has a 6.52 ERA and 13 strikeouts.

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