Future Cougar: Jaycob Deese

Houston Cougars commit Jaycob Deese with the Brazos Valley Bombers
Jaycob Deese on the mound for the Brazos Valley Bombers

Jaycob Deese just picked up a league championship win, and his next stop is the University of Houston campus as he prepares for his first year with the Houston Cougars.

The Cougars baseball commit is an incoming transfer from Galveston College. That is not far from where baseball first began for Jaycob. He started playing organized baseball at the age of four, like most others in the college game now, he started with t-ball. For Deese, his game took shape on the little league fields of Channelview, as he worked his way from t-ball to pitching-machine to coach-pitch and eventually to the live-arm leagues.

As a youngster, Deese was always a pitcher, he also played shortstop often, but as he describes it, “I was a guy who could come in and just throw strikes, not very hard, but I could get outs.” And he likes to remind you, “I was always a hitter when I was younger.”

Deese attended North Shore High School in the Galena Park school district. As a member of the Mustangs, he was part of a trio of arms that led his squad deep into the 6-A playoffs in 2017.

Two weeks after the 6-A playoffs ended for North Shore his senior season, Lee Martinez, Deese’s head coach at North Shore, arranged for a tryout at Galveston College to let Jaycob show the staff what he could do. “I went out there and I threw a bullpen, I got up to 88-89 and they offered me a scholarship,” Deese said. So, off he went to Galveston College.

In Deese’s first season with the Galveston College Whitecaps he appeared in twenty-one games, starting four of those. He recorded a 3.17 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings pitched. Jaycob looked ready to improve on those numbers as the 2020 season loomed.

Prior to his sophomore year at Galveston College, he had heard from his “dream school,” the University of Houston. His older sister had gone there and he recalls his parents taking him to games on campus. Deese says, “I really didn’t want to go anywhere else.” So Deese took his Houston visit and reviewed his offer and as he tells it, “I committed that day.” Deese then signed his national letter of intent in November 2019.

2020 got underway and Deese looked strong right away. He picked up wins in his first two starts, going 10 2/3 innings combined, striking out eleven, allowing four hits and only one earned run. Deese got a no-decision in his third start, a game his team won. Before the Covid-19 interruption, Deese had a record of 3-1 and a 2.09 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 43 innings pitched.

The season ended almost immediately after Deese’s final start of 2020. Before that March 12 start against the San Jacinto Gators, Deese was warming up in the bullpen before the game. A coach approached him and said, “Hey, enjoy your last start as a Whitecap.” Slightly confused, and focused on the game ahead, Deese asked for clarification. The coach replied, “This is going to be your last start, this is the last game of the season.”

Deese went out and faced San Jac and pitched what he called, “probably the best game of my life.” Jaycob held San Jac hitless through seven and eventually went 8 2/3 allowing only one run on two hits and striking out eleven. A nice way to go out. As we know, not every kid was so lucky as to know that their last at-bat or their last pitch, was indeed their last one of the season.

“I have enjoyed having him at the top of my rotation, and look forward to watching him perform next year,” said Galveston College head coach Kevin Lallmann. He says Deese is, “a three-pitch pitcher with tremendous command, he showcases a fastball that has touched 98 mph..” And Lallmann says Deese, “is able to locate a high spin rate curveball that gives him the ability to go through the lineup multiple times. In addition to the skill set Jaycob brings to the mound, he is a tremendous student, quality athlete, and a high-character guy.”

Deese stuck to his throwing and workout schedule after the season ended and as he prepared for whatever might come next. “I have a buddy down here who also plays D1 baseball, so we just kept throwing,” says Deese. “I would stay on my starting tasks, so the days I would start, I would throw a bullpen. I really never stopped throwing. I just kept doing the same workout, the same throwing, the same running, everything.”

Jaycob took part in the Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational (CSBI) in early June. The CSBI is a three-day tournament featuring players from over seventy Division I schools. Playing in the league is by invitation only.

While throwing a bullpen during the CSBI, he was hitting 96mph and that caught the eye of a coach from the Brazos Valley Bombers of the Texas Collegiate League (TCL), the team which plays its home games in that same ballpark, Travis Field, in Bryan. After a conversation and an invitation, Deese agreed to play for the Bombers in the 2020 TCL season which got underway on June 30.

Houston Cougars commit Jaycob Deese with the Brazos Valley Bombers
Jaycob Deese (center) with Bombers teammates

Deese’s Brazos Valley Bombers won the TCL championship on Saturday, August 8th, in a 13-2 victory over the Tulsa Drillers in Bryan. Deese had made four starts on the team loaded with pitching talent. In those starts Jaycob compiled a 3.86 ERA with nine strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings pitched.

Reflecting on his time in the TCL, Deese noted, “It was a great experience. I had never played in front of that many fans. Galveston College was a really small school and playing in front of that many fans was cool.” Speaking specifically about pitching, and pitching hard, in a wood bat league as the TCL was, Deese observed, “You can miss a spot and still miss a barrel and they can break a bat. Going inside is better too with the velo I had, it was easier.”

Deese is not afforded much time from the end of the TCL season until the time fall workouts begin. He is adhering to the workout program that the Cougars are using this year, and he is ready to begin his throwing regimen in the next few weeks. The hard-throwing right-hander talked openly about how excited he is for what happens next. After a wild and weird last several months across all of college baseball, Deese could see very soon what happens next for he and his Houston Cougars teammates.

Coach Lallmann stated, “Jaycob has a chance to be an impact guy for Houston, and is on the right path to becoming a professional soon.” –

Future Cougar: Cole Turney

Houston Cougars signee Cole Turney bats for the SanJac Gators
Cole Turney bats for the SanJac Gators
(Photo by Brenda McMillan Photography)

For outfielder Cole Turney, the 2020 baseball season was supposed to be an attempt at a full year of baseball as a healthy player. Instead, the Houston Cougars signee saw a promising season, and a healthy one to that point, end prematurely as a worldwide pandemic put everything on hold for everyone.

Cole Turney was in his second season as a SanJac Gator, he spent his freshman year at the University of Arkansas. Cole had one season end because of a left shoulder injury. He had another season end with a right shoulder injury. Turney decided to return to SanJac for one more season where he would most certainly get some playing time, something much needed for a ballplayer coming back from injury.

His SanJac Gators were rolling this season. Until the second week of March. They were on their way to Galveston for their next, and possibly final game of the season. “We were all thinking, there’s a good chance this is our last game,” because during the hour long ride to Galveston social media was going crazy with one cancellation after another. Reflecting on it now, Turney says, “It was tough for our season to end because we were so good. We were really good and we all knew it.” Then he admits, when the news came that they were all expecting, “that was a depressing call.”

Asked if he was happy with where his game was before the season ended, Turney does not mince words, “absolutely.”

Despite playing well, and staying healthy, Turney, like all other college and high school baseball players, suddenly had to go to a backup plan. With the usual tough stay-in-place orders everywhere else, the backup plan started at home. “I have a gym in my garage at my house,” said Cole. He was working out at home for the first several weeks until recently when things began to re-open. “I go workout up in North Houston at a facility where I can hit and workout,” says Turney.

Turney is chomping at the bit to get back to real action, that includes playing summer ball, as soon as summer ball starts playing again. Turney says, “I’m just kind of waiting on that call, waiting on things to unfold.” That call cannot come soon enough for him.

When the time is right, Cole is ready and anxious to get on campus “as soon as I can.” One thing he immediately wants to happen, is “hopefully we’ll be able to lift with a strength coach.”

When Cole was nine years of age, his little league had a select team for nine year olds. “We were nine years old but we were so elite, we took it so seriously early on, we were the number one team in the nation as nine year olds,” says Turney. That year during their tournament, rain forced the shutdown of all of the rest of the tournament games except for the game his team was playing in. As the only action in the complex, “everyone gravitated to our field” says Turney, recounting the story. At least a thousand people watched the nine year olds play.

Houston Cougars signee Cole Turney connects for the SanJac Gators
Cole Turney Connects
(Photo by Brenda McMillan Photography)

Turney is a baseball guy from beginning to end. He laid out the positives of playing at a school like SanJac and he describes the value of the instruction and the competition to the development of young players. It is the kind of thing that a great baseball mind thinks and speaks.

SanJac assistant coach Kory Koehler offered his thoughts on Turney, “When I think about a player and what I hope to get out of him, it’s a player who is like a sponge. A player who is willing to listen to instruction and implement what he can envision being beneficial without second guessing the instructor. A player whose willingness to put in the work far exceeds expectations and a player who’s respect for the game is on a whole other level. When I think of a player to offer an opportunity to and what characteristics that player must have both on and off the field, I envision the next Cole Turney. He is 100% a coach’s dream.” Coach Koehler, a University of Houston alum himself, concluded “I’ve had two wonderful years with Cole and I can’t wait to see him continue his playing career at my alma mater.”

As for his upcoming journey to the campus at the University of Houston, as with everyone waiting for the call to confirm the times and dates that things get going again, Turney is ready, “I want to do some big things in Houston.” –

Photos in this post were provided by Brenda Millan Photography.

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.