“Officially a Coog!” Signing Day 2019

Nine high school baseball players made their commitment to Cougars Baseball official on Wednesday as part of official events for national signing day . . . Future Coogs Rome Shubert, Patrick Dunn, Brandon Uhse, Evan Maldonado, Ben Sears, Will Pendergrass, Samuel Tormos, Josh Brown, and Bo Hogeboom all put pen to paper to declare themselves “officially a Coog!”

Takeaways from 2019 Fall Exhibition, Red Vs. White

Houston Cougars Red White 11-1-2019

The Houston Cougars baseball squad completed its fall exhibition schedule on Friday night at Schroeder Park by dividing up the entire group into two teams, otherwise known as the Red vs. White Game.

Without getting into specifics of who was on which team, here are some of the highlights…

Newcomer Ryan Hernandez, who had a very impressive fall debut overall with his performance in all three games, hit a homerun to left field in the first inning to get his team on the board . . . There was no doubt off the bat that the ball was headed toward Elgin . . . Later in the game Hernandez hit a hard ground ball to short and the sound that the ball and bat made when they made impact was not a familiar sound . . . The future for Ryan looks good and he should be fun to watch.

Jonathan Thomas was walked twice, and stole second both times . . . At one point there was a ball that got away from the catcher after a block, the ball did not roll far, but it rolled far enough that Thomas was able to advance to third and easily beat the throw . . . In another display of his freakish speed and play-making ability, Thomas bunted to third and started down the line toward first . . . The third baseman made a clean pickup of the ball, but in the rush to try to get Thomas at first made an errant throw that got by the first baseman and Thomas ended up on second.

Many Cougar arms took the mound for both teams and there were some solid efforts, no one really pitched poorly . . . Tanner Green, Nick Rupp, Robert Gasser, Spencer Hynes, Isaiah Blaylock, Brayson Hurdsman, Carter Henry, Randy Garza, and Nate Hardcastle all threw live action . . . There was some bad luck and one bad hop at second led to runs and a long inning, but no one embarrassed themselves out there on Friday night.

The defense was on display on this night . . . Derrick Cherry in right field threw out a runner at home that was trying to score from second on a single, the throw was perfect and the catcher barely had to move . . . In the late innings an attempted double-steal with runners at first and third was spoiled by Brad Burckel who caught the throw down from the catcher and immediately zipped the ball back to home plate to catch the runner at home and end the inning.

The game played like a mostly normal game for nine innings, with the exception that the Red team batted ten players in their lineup with Kyle Lovelace in the ten spot dubbed a “extra hitter” . . . In the bottom of the ninth, a dropped fly ball in left allowed two runs to score and time the game at three . . . The game went to extras . . . Well, these extras were extra, as both teams started with no one out, but runners were automatically placed at first and second just to get some late-inning “situational” action going.

Both sides scored in the tenth, so they went to the eleventh . . . This time both teams started with the bases loaded . . . In the top of the eleventh, Team White plated four runners and took a 9-5 lead to the bottom half . . . The door was closed on Team Red in short order and Team White ended the fall with a win. 

Takeaways from 2019 Fall Exhibition, Game 2

Houston Cougars vs UIW 10-27-2019

The Houston Cougars welcomed several recent friendly faces as part of the University of the Incarnate Word baseball team to Schroeder Park on Sunday afternoon . . . Former Cougars assistant and third base coach Ryan Shotzberger is now the head coach at UIW . . . He took with him Kyle Winkler who was a Cougars coach for a few weeks before Shotzberger took over in San Antonio and Winkler followed him.

Three UIW players were on the Cougars roster earlier this year; Ron Brown, Drew Minter, and Landon Etzel . . . All three saw action in Sunday’s exhibition.

An important thing to remember about the exhibition games is that they are quite literally for the development of the players and nothing more . . . The scores are meaningless . . . The teams played 11 innings on Sunday just because they wanted to . . . The Cougars batting lineup, was twelve players deep, and toward the end of the exhibition, players were literally being plucked out of the dugout to bat in situations that were good for them, even if it meant they had just batted in the previous inning and several spots in the order were skipped.

One of the most interesting situations occurred when the Cougars came to bat in an inning, and before anyone even stepped up to the plate, a base runner was placed at first base for situational practice . . . The pitcher got to work from the stretch, the runner attempted a steal, and was thrown out at second . . . Fun for everyone.

So that brings us back to the highlights and lowlights of Sunday’s action.

Blake Way got the Cougars offense on the board in the third with a homerun to left field . . . Kobe Hyland hit a homerun to straightaway center in the eighth, a ball that hit the batters eye on the lower right corner just above the wall, it was an impressive show of power from the Cougars shortstop, the ball landed to the left of one of the 390 feet signs on the wall in center.

Bryson Hill hit a triple to right to score two runs in the seventh . . . Steven Rivas hit a triple to center which was a tremendous blast that continued to carry further and further off the bat . . . The triple brought home two runners.

Ryan Hernandez walked once and was hit-by-pitch twice, and he stole second base after being hit the second time . . . He continues to be a solid presence at the plate in just his second game with the Cougars.

Luke Almendarez made the defensive play of the game at second base . . . A slow-moving ball was hit toward the right side of the second base bag, Almendarez fielded the ball and falling toward left field threw across his body and just got the runner at first . . . It was a gold star play by the freshman.

Seven Coogs shared in pitching the eleven frames on Sunday . . . Carter Henry started the game and went one scoreless inning . . . Nick Rupp, Robert Gasser, and Isaiah Blaylock each followed with two innings . . . Spencer Hynes pitched 1 1/3 innings with Tristen Bayless going 1 2/3 innings . . . Brayson Hurdsman handled the final inning of work.

All in all, the teams each technically plated seven runs in the final exhibition game of the fall for the Houston Cougars . . . The Cougars will play the Red vs. White game this next Friday, November 1 at 6pm at Schroeder Park . . . Admission is free, these games always prove to be interesting affairs.

Takeaways from 2019 Fall Exhibition, Game 1

Houston Cougars 10-16-2019
The Houston Cougars take the field for Wednesday’s exhibition game.

The Houston Cougars baseball team hosted the San Jacinto College Gators at Schroeder Park on Wednesday evening for some exhibition action . . . San Jac is one of three teams visiting the corner of Elgin and Cullen for an exhibition game this fall.

The Cougars have a ton of new faces this fall, and some familiar faces like Jared Triolo and Joe Davis are visibly absent.

Wednesday’s action was not a prototypical game by any means . . . After all, the two teams played a tenth inning for no real reason, other than the extra swings and the extra pitches . . . There was no official scoring of the game, and the scoreboard only displayed a UH logo during the game – no time, no innings, no lineups . . . the only way to know what was happening was to have kept score, and those scorecards were a mess for sure.

Transfer newcomer Ryan Hernandez got his Cougar career off to a great start, knocking two solid singles in his first two plate appearances . . . Hernandez is listed at 6’4″ and he looks like a sizable presence at the plate.

The Cougars used ten pitchers in the game, each pitcher went a full inning of work . . . Brayson Hurdsman, Carter Henry, Spencer Hynes, Isaiah Blaylock, Robert Gasser, Tanner Green, Reed Osborn, Nick Rupp, Tristen Bayless, and Layne Looney all got some solid work in against the Gators.

Layne Looney was notable among the rest of the pitching staff that threw scoreless innings, his pitches were phenomenal . . . Looney had guys buckling and looking helpless at the plate . . . The three that batted against him anyway, all three went down looking.

The Gators scored all three of their runs in the seventh inning, the inning was the only one where control was an issue, fours walks, three wild pitches, and a stolen base were only problematic when combined with a solid double hit to the left-field corner.

Aside from the two Hernandez base hits, Cam McMillan reached base with a single, as did Derrick Cherry after he was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance . . . The Cougars only plated two runners . . . If an official score had been kept, the Cougars would have dropped this one 3-2, but again, this was a weird one to measure as guys batted out of order and the order went beyond one thru nine . . . Add to this the well-known fact that San Jac is loaded with pitching arms, and the Cougars faced many of them on Wednesday night.

The Cougars return to exhibition action on Sunday, October 27th at 2pm at Schroeder Park.

Ryan Randel Signs with Angels

Los Angeles Angels

Right-hander Ryan Randel has signed a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

An Angels scout who scouted Randel quite a bit offered some things that he and the Angels liked about Randel . . . On Randel’s physical attributes, the scout noted that Randel is a “tall guy . . . with a nice pitcher’s frame” and he noted that Ryan “comes from a good angle.”

About Randel’s baseball skills, the scout noted that Randel “pitches to contact” and his change-up has a chance to be a swing and miss pitch” . . . The scout further added that Ryan is “very coachable.”

On the things that cannot be taught, the scout said Randel is “a hard worker . . . he brings a good work ethic . . . going to be very professional about his business” . . . the scout added that Randel will be a “great teammate.” –

HS Watch: Hogeboom, Argyle Claim State Title

argyle-eagles-6-5-2019.jpg

The Argyle Eagles claimed the 2019 4A Texas state championship at Disch-Falk Field  Thursday night with a 6-3 win over the Sweeny Bulldogs.

Cougars commit Bo Hogeboom continued to bat as the designated hitter for the Eagles . . . Argyle scored a run in the top of the first to take an early 1-0 lead . . . They would not get on board again until the fourth, when, still leading 1-0 they put together an inning in which they plated three runs.

Hogeboom helped lead the fourth inning attack when he hit a one-out single to left-center to score a runner from second and put the Eagles up 3-0 at that point . . . When Hogeboom reached base, a courtesy runner took Hogeboom’s place at first base, and the runner would score a few batters later on a single to put Argyle up 4-0 heading to the bottom of the fourth.

Hogeboom walked in the fifth with two outs and runners on second and third . . . The next batter would be hit by a pitch which walked in another run to make the score 5-0 . . . Sweeny closed the gap in the fifth when they scored three runs to cut the lead to 5-3.

Hogeboom completed his night at the plate with a two-out walk in the seventh inning, his second walk in as many plate appearances . . . Hogeboom started the at-bat with a runner on second, but two wild pitches scored the runner and left no one on for Hogeboom . . . Given the situation, it was a disciplined plate appearance for Hogeboom and his patience at not chasing out of the strike zone was rewarded with a free base after Argyle took a 6-3 lead.

Argyle ends their season with a 40-1-1 record . . . The Cougars commit comes from a program that does not know losing. –

Fred Villarreal Drafted by the Mariners

Seattle Mariners logo

Right-hander Fred Villarreal was drafted by the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday in the 25th round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft.

Villarreal was electric on the mound this season for the Cougars, he stayed healthy this year and was mostly automatic when he entered a game, many times he was asked to go more than one inning to close out a game . . . In the process, Villarreal picked up ten saves in thirty-three appearances with a 2.29 ERA.

Seattle Mariners director of amateur scouting Scott Hunter had these things to say about their evaluation of Villarreal, “He has what our guys call a ‘real’ slider and his velocity is in the 88 to 91 range and they think if he can come in and start gaining a few more miles per hour, he could have the real potential to move in our system.”

Hunter added, “We identify guys that can throw a ton of strikes and have really good breaking balls. We think over the last few years we’ve really been able to start developing velocity for guys in what we call our “gas camp.” We try to identify a few of those guys that we can build upon where if we can increase their velocity just a little bit, they can become real prospects.” –