Future Cougar: Rome Shubert

Houston Cougars signee Rome Shubert pitches for the Santa Fe Indians.
Rome Shubert pitches for the Santa Fe Indians

Rome Shubert and his Santa Fe Indians teammates were leading 6-0 in the 4th inning of a game against the Channelview Falcons when a coach ran onto the field and told everyone to go home, the rest of their tournament was cancelled.

Shubert, a Houston Cougars signee, describes that moment as “shocking” for a variety of reasons. No one was fully understanding what was happening all around them at the time, but the more fundamental question occurs, why not just let these kids play the final three innings before calling things off?

“We were rolling,” Shubert says with pride about his team. On a personal level, the young man who has pitching stats anyone would admire, was even beginning to heat up at the plate as his senior year was unfolding. In their last full game before the game shutdown in the 4th inning, Santa Fe had topped La Porte 9-2. In that game, Shubert was 3-for-4 at the plate with 2 RBI, only a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. On the mound he tossed 5 scoreless innings of one-hit ball, struck out four, and picked up the win to move to 3-0 on the season, while only facing one over the minimum.

As a junior in 2019, Shubert led Santa Fe deep into the state high school playoffs. He compiled an 11-1 record while recording a .86 ERA and striking out 84 batters in 73 ⅓ innings.

So, how do you improve on a season like that? Summer ball followed the high school playoffs, and when he was not playing, Rome spent time working out, eventually adding fifteen pounds of muscle to his frame. “I definitely improved with consistent velo,” says Shubert. “The velo was higher consistently for a longer period. I was still sitting in the upper 80s in the 6th inning.” He points out that at the same time in the previous season, where he might be sitting 84-85mph into the fifth and sixth innings, this season he was sitting 86-88mph into the sixth inning.

In January of his sophomore year, before the baseball season even got underway, Shubert attended a Houston Cougars baseball camp. At that camp, with coaches watching, Shubert struck out 7 of 10 batters he faced, these were kids his own age up to junior college sophomores. Houston coaches were aware of Rome from the summer before when his summer team had a private workout with the coaching staff.

Before January ended, Rome Shubert was a University of Houston commit.

Houston Cougars signee Rome Shubert pitches for the Santa Fe Indians.
Rome Shubert of the Santa Fe Indians.

Having made his decision before his actual sophomore season began, Shubert only had to focus on his own game. That season he posted a .84 ERA going 75 ⅓ innings and striking out 84 batters.

After the 2020 season was paused and before it was eventually cancelled altogether, Rome and his teammates have been staying active and in shape. At the home of a teammate who has an outdoor shop with workout equipment, they all arrange a schedule and go two at a time so there are not too many people at once, and thus violating any local rules, “at any given time there are two of us,” Shubert says. They throw, or workout, or they do both. “I’ve been doing that six days a week, every day but Sunday.”

With his official high school career behind him after the UIL ended the season just this past week, Rome Shubert leaves Santa Fe having won 26 games in four years as a varsity pitcher. His ERA is a miniscule 1.21. He struck out 208 batters in 213 ⅔ innings pitched. And of the 30 games that he started, he pitched 16 complete games, including two of his three starts in a shortened 2020 season. “Rome has started for us since his freshman year,” said Santa Fe head coach Ronnie Wulf. “I have had the pleasure of watching him grow and mature over the past four years, especially in a leadership role. He has become one of the best pitchers in the state.”

With what looked to be a great season ahead cut short significantly, Rome is now focused on his summer workout routine, which might involve summer league tournament action, but if that does not work out, then the routine will certainly involve throwing bullpens and live at-bats to friends and teammates. Coach Wulf stated, “Rome is a great kid, very competitive, and always looking for ways to be a better player and works hard to achieve his goals.”

Shubert is ready to compete, and he brings a winning attitude to the University of Houston. “An opportunity is an opportunity,” he says. “Whatever opportunity I’m given, I’m definitely going to take and run with it.”

When he was five, his parents put him in t-ball. When he was seven, he made the all-star team in his little league. Seven-year-old Rome Shubert had no idea what an all-star team was, his parents had to try to explain it. So he showed up to the first practice and all his friends were there. And he made even more friends during that time with the all-star team. Their team played a while together and they kept winning, eventually finishing as runner-up in their area. Shubert says, “that all-star experience when I was seven years old, was the moment when I thought, “ok, I think I’m going to do this for a long time”.”

That seven-year-old is about to step onto a university campus in a few months with a spot on the team roster firmly within reach, and the ability before long to legitimately compete for the Friday spot in the rotation. –

Future Cougar: Samuel Tormos

Houston Cougars signee Samuel Tormos at-bat for the Van Alstyne Panthers.
Samuel Tormos at-bat for the Van Alstyne Panthers.

Houston Cougars signee Samuel Tormos had every reason in the world to want a full 2020 baseball season. In his junior season, after having already committed to the University of Houston, Tormos led the Van Alstyne Panthers to the state 3A semifinals in Round Rock with a 29-6 record. Tormos did so by hitting .482 with 32 RBI, 2 homeruns, 18 stolen bases, and a .604 on-base percentage. Numbers good enough to earn Tormos the District 10-3A Offensive MVP.

Tormos also aided the Panthers on the mound by going 6-2 with a 1.67 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 46 innings.

Tormos is a three-sport standout, also playing on the school’s basketball team and running for the track team. “I played basketball and ran track because they were fun,” says Tormos. “It keeps you in shape, it works out different areas of your body.” The basketball team made a deep run in the playoffs, and that run overlapped with the start of the baseball season, so Tormos was late getting on the diamond this year. But already, he was hitting .625 with a .769 on-base percentage.

Then the now infamous second week of March started to play out. Tormos and his Panthers teammates were playing a tournament. With a division-leading record of 9-3, having won the night before, Van Alstyne was scheduled to play an early morning game. There was rain, which was possibly going to cause problems, but Tormos points out that they were playing the tournament on a turf field, so there was a good chance the rain was not going to cause cancellation.

But then, a text message. 

“Ok guys, everything is now cancelled,” read the text from head Coach Jimmy Haynes. “Tourney is canceled due to CoronaVirus.” The young players began to process all of this, and Tormos and his teammates were learning more about what was happening, “we started getting more information from the UIL tweeting out stuff and the district tweeting out as well,” he said.

Asked about how his numbers in his senior season were better from his junior season, Tormos pointed to some very specific improvements, “I got a lot stronger. Spraying the ball all over the field and I got better using a big part of the field a lot.” Work on these things began last summer after the state playoff run came to an end when he played travel baseball.

Now, with the pause in the season, Tormos is not alone in having to find ways to be ready, for either the resumption of the high school season, potential summer ball, or reporting to the University of Houston for the late summer and fall. “I’m working out a lot, getting stronger,” Tormos says. “I’m still long tossing, throwing. Hitting in the cage pretty much every day. Just trying to stay on top of the baseball skills.”

Houston Cougars signee Samuel Tormos at short for the Panthers in Round Rock.
Samuel Tormos at shortstop at Dell Diamond.

Samuel knows how to improve his game during summer ball, he knows how to utilize the time well. He does not know if there will be a summer ball league this year. If the summer league does happen, Tormos will be there, “you know, just to get some reps, live ABs.”

During the summer between Samuel’s sophomore and junior years, he was playing in a Perfect Game tournament in Georgia, and that is where the Houston Cougars reached out to him. Tormos says, “It seemed like an automatic fit, really.” He committed to the Cougars on September 11, 2018.

The kid who started playing coach-pitch baseball at the age of seven will soon go from being a Panther in Van Alstyne to a Cougar in Houston. “I’ve had the privilege to coach Samuel since he was a freshman. His natural ability was evident from the first time I saw him on a baseball field,” says his head coach Jimmy Haynes. “You could tell he was going to be a special baseball player. As he grew, his baseball ability grew as well. Samuel was constantly working to improve his baseball skills. I would see him working extra after practice each day whether it was fielding or hitting.”

This writer witnessed and wrote about Samuel Tormos and his Panther team during their playoff run last summer. I wrote then about Tormos’s fluid, easy movement around the baseball field, especially at the shortstop position. Being out there appears natural for him. He seems at home there. He admits to being relaxed on the baseball field and credits part of that to not over-thinking things, he lets the game happen.

What about his upside?

Coach Haynes notes, “As you know, Samuel has been dividing his efforts between basketball, track and baseball. Now that he’s going to be able to concentrate solely on baseball, it will allow him to really excel at baseball. Being able to concentrate on nutrition, strength building and baseball will only un-tap his potential. I believe, because of this untapped potential, you might see him have a chance to play at the professional level. Nothing Samuel achieves will be a surprise to me.”

Samuel Tormos indicates that he was recruited as an infielder, but can play anywhere on the diamond, and will even pitch if need be. The three-sport star can do three things well between the lines on a baseball field. The future Cougar who saw Houston as the “automatic fit” will soon find out where he fits with the baseball program as he focuses and devotes his time solely to the game of baseball. It is easy to expect big things from Tormos. Writers can see it. Coaches can see it. As important, Samuel Tormos sees it. –

Future Cougar: Patrick Dunn

 

Patrick Dunn pitches for Flower Mound High School (Photo by John Knope)
Patrick Dunn of Flower Mound High School
(Photo by John Knope)

The Flower Mound Jaguars experienced the full range of emotions in the 24 hours that began on Thursday, March 12. The Jaguars defeated Southlake Carroll 8-6 on Southlake’s own field, giving them just their second loss of the season as they are ranked the top 6A team in the state.

As news and rumors about the immediate future of high school baseball began to enter the minds of the young athletes, some, including Houston Cougars signee Patrick Dunn, actually pondered about the next game that Thursday, “This could be our last game in high school baseball.”

Flower Mound lost 3-2 on a walk-off to McKinney Boyd, ranked fifth in the state, one spot ahead of the Jaguars, both with the same record of 10-3-1.

Reflecting on the day, and especially on the loss to McKinney Boyd, Dunn said of his team, “We weren’t really too worried about that, we just worried if that was our last game or not.” He continued that he, “wanted to go out there with the team one more time.”

Then came Friday the 13th.

“That Friday, we go into the team room and we find out that our season is postponed until the beginning of April or so,” Patrick said. It is the same story that paused and potentially ended every high school baseball season in the state and most of the country.

Patrick Dunn is a senior at Flower Mound. The right-handed pitcher stands 6-foot-6 and is lean with room to grow as he gets ready to join the Houston Cougars. Before his senior year was halted, Dunn had pitched 15 innings in five games with 19 strikeouts.

Dunn discussed his 2020 effort thus far, “I was really happy with the season, I had progressed a lot not just on the physical side but on the mental side too, I had a lot of confidence out there and I just had a better mindset, thinking I was the best player to be out there at that time.” It is one thing to be six and a half feet tall and to be able to throw a baseball with some speed and movement. It is another thing to be out there and be confident in your ability against some of the toughest competition in 6A Texas baseball.

With competitive activity on hold, Dunn, like most players, is having to find ways to stay active and stay sharp, pretty much on their own time and in their own way. Dunn’s routine is full, “I’m doing bodyweight exercises to maintain where I’m at strength wise, and then I do some heavy ball work,” against what he calls the “perfect brick wall” at his home. A hitter can swing a bat almost anywhere with a certain radius clear, but a pitcher might have to improvise, and Patrick has done that, “I have a net in the garage that I can throw into.”

Flower Mound head coach Danny Wallace is extremely complimentary of Dunn’s intangibles, “He is a great leader on and off the field. His work ethic is outstanding and he has a passion to be great.”

Patrick is big on “team” and it is obvious in talking with him that he values the guys in the dugout. Discussing the 2020 Jaguars Dunn said, “We were a lot hungrier than last year because we made it so far and didn’t end up getting to the state tournament, but we all knew we could have done it, so this year we were really trying to prove a point and show that we were definitely one of the best teams, if not the best team in the state.” It is obvious that Dunn wants the 2020 season to resume at some point so he can “go out there with the team one more time.”

If the high school season never gets started again, Patrick, in accordance with the rules of the day, will hopefully get some games in with the summer team he plays on. If that does not happen, he plans to keep working until he reports to the University of Houston in either mid to late summer. His plan, he says, includes wanting to “pitch live at-bats to people I know so that I can just keep getting my work in.” Any takers?

Last summer, Patrick’s summer team played in one of the nation’s biggest baseball tournaments in Atlanta, Georgia. His team made it to the last day of action, and it so happened that Houston coaches were on hand to see “one of the best games I ever pitched,” according to Dunn. He had spoken to Houston coaches weeks before and with his outstanding performance in an unlikely game in front of the Houston coaches, he concluded, “Honestly, I feel like it was kind of meant to be.” He committed to the University of Houston before he left Atlanta.

Houston Cougars signee Patrick Dunn of Flower Mound (Photo by John Knope)
Houston Cougars signee Patrick Dunn
(Photo by John Knope)

“He has worked very hard to get to where he is and his better days are all ahead of him – he has a lot of upside,” Coach Wallace said of Dunn. “He throws a really heavy downhill fastball and the breaking ball is improving and will be a plus pitch as he gets comfortable with it. The velocity has continued to climb and he will be consistently in the 90s at UH.”

As a kid, attending Texas Rangers games, Patrick was impressed with how big the ballplayers were, how hard they threw the ball, and how far they hit the ball. Beyond those impressions though, baseball was a “bond” with his best friends, they all played together from first grade into high school, they all love the game. Patrick Dunn will have the chance to play at the next level now, and he will be in the mix for time on the mound when the 2021 Houston Cougars take the field. – 

Future Cougar: Skyler Trevino

Skyler Trevino bats for the Whitehouse Wildcats
Skyler Trevino bats for the Whitehouse Wildcats

Like many other high school and college programs around the country, the second week of March 2020 proved to be interesting, and eventually disappointing, with a lot of uncertainty and unanswered questions in between.

That was the case for Houston Cougars signee Skyler Trevino and his Whitehouse Wildcats baseball team.

The Wildcats were out of town for a three-day tournament when after the opening day action of the tournament on Thursday, schools started to pull away for the sake of caution and they returned home. Whitehouse was mere days away from their district action beginning on the following Tuesday, and they wanted to stay sharp. 

Coaches and schools started emailing around to find willing opponents. West Rusk, a 3A school from New London, Texas, about a 30-minute drive directly east from Whitehouse, was willing to travel to take on their 5A neighbor.

On Friday, March 13, Whitehouse blanked the West Rusk Raiders 5-0 in a 7pm game. There was momentary joy for the Wildcats. “After that game was when we got the news,” Skyler said. “It was only supposed to be for two weeks.” Three weeks and counting now, Trevino and his Wildcats teammates are still waiting. For Skyler on a personal level, the pause in the season happened at a bad time as he was just heating up having hit a homeurn in each of the final three games

For the time being, Trevino has a full gym at home and he is working out every day. He joins some buddies every few days at the little league park where they throw and hit in the cages. It is the best they can do right now, given the circumstances.

Skyler Trevino has played football for as long as he has played baseball. For the last two seasons, he played free safety for the Wildcats football team. Over those two seasons in 22 games he made 44 solo tackles and took part in another 10. As if that was not enough, Skyler also took the field as a wide receiver for his senior season. In 12 games he caught 35 passes for 704 yards and 7 touchdowns. Trevino handled some kick-off and punt returns for good measure as well.

But the dream, is baseball. It has been that way since he began going to Texas Rangers games in Arlington as a kid. Recollecting going to games at The Ballpark in Arlington, Skyler said, “Just watching the games and being in that ballpark and that atmosphere, baseball has always been something I wanted to do since then. I’ve always had a strong love for the game and just always enjoyed playing it a lot.” He continued, “I’ve always dreamed of going to play baseball somewhere.”

That somewhere will be the University of Houston starting this summer, or maybe the fall. No one has all the answers right now, and everyone is having to wait and see, ready and willing to adapt, but staying prepared for the time being. Baseball will happen again.

Houston was not Skyler’s first baseball offer, but it was the first and only offer he accepted. He made an official visit to the campus and the baseball facilities in his junior year. He watched a game at Schroeder Park and saw the new baseball facility still under construction at the time. He was beyond impressed with the coaches and committed to the Cougars shortly after the visit. “It felt right,” he says without hesitation. “I felt Houston was a good place for me to be.”

Greg Branch, the head baseball coach at Whitehouse, speaking of his star senior said, “Skyler is a leader and all of his teammates look up to him. He was a standout football player as well as one of the best left-handed bats I’ve ever coached.  He was the perfect example of what we want our program to look like and he will do great things at the University of Houston.”

Skyler Trevino plays infield for Whitehouse
Skyler Trevino plays infield for Whitehouse

When baseball happens again, Skyler Trevino will be one of the new faces of the program on campus. He will keep working toward that dream of playing baseball in his own way until he reports to the University of Houston, at which point the dream continues to unfold.

Coach Branch added about Skyler, “I asked him recently what do you think you will play at the University of Houston and he said, ‘Coach I’ll play whatever they want me to play.’ That’s the kind of kid you are getting.” –