By Jerry Briggs
A special report for The JB Replay
Say hey, fellow Texans. Belly up to the bar. With a new major league season upon us, hold up your glass, and we will fill it today with a concoction of baseball-related brew. Hopefully it will satisfy some of your thirst for up-to-date storylines on those who learned how to play the game in the Lone Star State.
Here it is:
Texans in Major League Baseball
On the eve of opening day, 2022
After an examination of spring training reports available at mlb.com, we’ve compiled a list of players from Texas-based high schools or colleges – or both — who are expected to be on opening-day rosters (inclusive of players who may be on the injured list).
You may have seen some of this information in this space a year ago. But, believe me, plenty has changed since then.
For instance, former Colleyville Heritage High School star Bobby Witt, Jr., is expected to make his MLB debut this season with the Kansas City Royals. Former Texas A&M standout A.J. Minter will pursue another ring after winning the World Series last fall with the Atlanta Braves.
Trevor Story (from Irving HS) has moved from the Rockies to play second base for the Red Sox. Pitcher Noah Syndergaard (Mansfield Legacy) from the Mets to the Angels. Catcher Jose Trevino (Corpus Christi St. John Paul II) from the Rangers to (gulp) the Yankees.
So, here it is, a graphic story that can be poured into a chilled mug, right to the top, and served with a side of nachos. Enjoy.
(Names listed, in alphabetical order)
Anthony Banda/LHP/Pittsburgh Pirates/Corpus Christi/Sinton HS/San Jacinto College — Expected to pitch out of the Pirates’ bullpen in what will be his sixth season in the majors. Drafted in the 10th round by the Brewers in 2012. Since 2017 has played in the majors for the Diamondbacks, the Rays, the Mets and the Pirates. He was claimed off waivers by the Pirates last summer.
Brandon Belt/INF/San Francisco Giants/Nacogdoches/Lufkin HS/University of Texas – Veteran first baseman has been hobbled this spring with an ankle injury. Belt is an 11-year pro, a one-time all-star and a career .264 hitter. He hit 29 homers in 97 games last summer.
Cavan Biggio/UTILITY/Toronto Blue Jays/Houston St. Thomas HS/University of Notre Dame – Biggio signed a one-year, $2.1 million contract in March on the heels of a season in which he hit .224. The son of former Astros star Craig Biggio is expected to play second base but also will play first and corner outfield.
JT Chargois/RHP/Tampa Bay Rays/Sulphur, La., HS and Rice University – Chargois is expected to pitch in the Rays’ bullpen. The righthander has pitched four of the last six seasons in the majors, with the Twins, Dodgers, Mariners and the Rays. The Mariners traded him to the Rays last July. He is 10-6 with a 3.73 ERA for his career. Chargois was drafted by the Twins out of Rice in 2012.
Hunter Dozier/DH-UTL/Kansas City Royals/Wichita Falls/Denton HS/Stephen F. Austin University — Eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft is looking for a resurgence after a couple of down seasons, including last summer, which was clouded by a hand injury.
Tyler Duffey/RHP/Minnesota Twins/Houston Bellaire HS/Rice University – Going into his eighth season in the majors, all with the Twins, Duffey is expected to pitch out of the bullpen. He has pitched in 255 games in Minnesota. Duffy is 27-23 with a 4.53 ERA in his career.
Nathan Eovaldi/P/Boston Red Sox/Houston native, attended Alvin HS. An opening-day starter for the Red Sox. An 11th-year veteran with a 61-65 record and a 4.19 ERA. Drafted by the LA Dodgers in 2008 in the 11th round.
Kyle Finnegan/P/Washington Nationals/Houston-area Kingwood HS/Texas State University — Projected to pitch out of the Nationals’ bullpen. Finnegan has been in the major leagues for the last two years, both in Washington, with 93 appearances, 11 saves and a 3.38 earned run average.
Paul Goldschmidt/1B/St. Louis Cardinals/The Woodlands HS/Texas State – An eighth-round draft pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009, Goldschmidt has become one of the best in baseball. In 11 major league seasons, he’s made six All-Star game appearances and has hit .293 with 280 home runs and 927 RBIs.
Randall Grichuk/OF/Colorado Rockies/Lamar Consolidated HS – Grichuk was traded from the Toronto Blue Jays to the Rockies on March 24. The former 2009 first-round draft pick out of Lamar Consolidated is expected to start in center field and bat in the middle of the order.
Trent Grisham/OF/Padres/Burleson/Richland, North Richland Hills HS — Broke into the big leagues in 2019 with the Milwaukee Brewers. Started in the outfield the past two seasons with the San Diego Padres. Selected in the first round, 15th overall, out of high school in 2015 by the Brewers. Played in Triple A for the San Antonio Missions in 2019 before his call up to the majors. Hit for the cycle in his last game before getting the call to the big leagues.
Ke’Bryan Hayes/3B/Pirates/Tomball Concordia Lutheran HS – Hayes is a key player for the Pirates, but a sprained ankle could keep him from starting at third on opening day.
Taylor Hearn/LHP/Texas Rangers/Royse City HS, in Texas; San Jacinto College, Oklahoma Baptist – Hearn’s home of Royce City is 50 miles northeast of Globe Life Field, the home of the Rangers, with whom he has pitched for parts of the past three seasons. Hearn, the son of Clem Hearn, a former professional rodeo star, is 3-2 with a 4.18 earned run average in his career.
Louis Head/RHP/Miami Marlins/Katy Cinco Ranch HS/Texas Tech and Texas State universities — Head pitched in 27 games last year for the Tampa Bay Rays. He was 2-0 with a 2.31 earned run average. Head opened the new season in the bullpen for the Miami Marlins. Head was drafted in the 18th round of the 2012 draft out of Texas State. He had spent the previous two seaons at Texas Tech.
Clayton Kershaw/LHP/Los Angeles Dodgers/Highland Park HS – Veteran left-handed pitcher signed a one-year contract this spring, meaning he will pitch for the Dodgers for a 15th season. Three-time Cy Young Award winner was a free agent and picked between the Texas Rangers and the Dodgers. Stayed with the Dodgers thinking it would give him a better chance to win a World Series.
Corey Kluber/RHP/Tampa Bay Rays/Coppell High School in Texas/Stetson University – Kluber, who will turn 36 on April 10, is expected to be in the Rays’ starting rotation. He pitched in 2009 and 2010 with the Double A San Antonio Missions and has spent the last 11 years in the majors. Kluber claimed Cy Young Awards with Cleveland in 2014 and 2017. After a year with the Yankees, he signed with the Rays on Dec. 1.
Corey Knebel/RHP/Philadelphia Phillies/Georgetown HS/University of Texas – After the relief pitching specialist worked for the LA Dodgers last year, his seventh in the majors, Knebel signed as a free agent with the Phillies, a one-year deal worth a reported $10 million.
Nick Lodolo/Cincinnati Reds/TCU – Lodolo, a left-handed pitcher, was the seventh pick in the 2019 draft. He will make his major league debut this season. Lodolo, who grew up in California before moving Texas to play at TCU, is expected to start for the Reds.
Lucas Luetge/LHP/New York Yankees/Brenham/Bellville HS/Rice University – Luetge, at 35, will pitch out of the Yankees’ bullpen once again. Dispatched from the majors to the minors in 2015, he toiled there for most of seven seasons before getting a break with the Yankees last year. Wearing the pinstripes, he went 4-2 with a 2.74 ERA. His pro career began in 2008 when he was taken in the 21st round by the Brewers out of Rice.
Dustin May/RHP/Los Angeles Dodgers/Justin Northwest HS, in Texas, in the DFW area – May, a hard-throwing, right-hander, is expected to start the season on the injured list. Coming off Tommy John elbow surgery, he isn’t expected to be ready until the All-Star break. He helped the Dodgers to the 2020 World Series title but pitched only five times last year before getting hurt at Milwaukee. He had surgery last May.
A.J. Minter/LHP/Atlanta Braves/Tyler/Brook Hill School in Bullard/Texas A&M – Minter is expected to pitch out of the bullpen for the defending World Series champions. The lefthander has pitched the past five seasons with the Braves. Minter is 11-15 with a 3.71 ERA and 20 saves. He made eight appearances in the 2021 postseason, including three in the World Series.
Corbin Martin/RHP/Arizona Diamondbacks/Hempstead HS/Texas A&M — Martin emerged as a second-round draft pick of the Houston Astros in 2017. He reached the big leagues in 2019 but was traded in July to the Diamondbacks. Martin reached the majors with the Diamondbacks for the first time in 2021.
Max Muncy/INF/Los Angeles Dodgers/Midland native/Keller HS/Baylor University — One of the Dodgers’ best left-handed hitters is moving from IB to 2B to make way for free agent signee Freddie Freeman.
Tyler Naquin/OF/Cincinnati Reds/Klein Collins HS in Spring/Texas A&M – Expected to start in the outfield for the Reds. Naquin is a career .273 hitter over parts of six major league seasons. Spent first five in Cleveland, last year in Cincinnati.
Ryan O’Hearn/UTILITY/Kansas City Royals/Frisco Wakeland HS/Sam Houston State – Expected to play a utility role with the Royals. He’s played in 275 games in the majors over the past four seasons, all in Kansas City.
Brooks Raley/LHP/Rays/San Antonio native/Uvalde HS/Texas A&M — Signed with the Rays for two years and $10 million with an option for a third year. Pitched in the playoffs for the Astros the past few seasons.
Anthony Rendon/INF/Los Angeles Angels/Houston Lamar HS/Rice University – Rendon is looking to kick-start his career going into his third season in Los Angeles. A power-hitting third baseman, he slugged a total of 103 home runs in a four-year stretch from 2016-19 with the Nationals. Since joining the Angels in 2020, he has hit only 15 homers. Last year, Rendon struggled with an assortment of injuries before he was shut down in August with a hip impingement.
Caleb Smith/LHP/Arizona Diamondbacks/Huntsville HS/Sam Houston State – Has played the last five seasons in the majors with the Yankees, the Marlins and the Diamondbacks. The lefty is 19-27 in his career with a 4.63 ERA. Pitched in 45 games for the Diamondbacks last year, mostly in relief. Is expected to pitch out of the pen again in 2022.
Trevor Story/INF/Red Sox/Irving HS – The Red Sox on March 20 signed Story, a free agent, to a six-year, $140-million contract. In six years with the Colorado Rockies, he made two All-Star teams, and he has produced 158 HRs with 450 RBIs. Story is expected to play second base, with Xander Bogaerts remaining at shortstop.
Ross Stripling/RHP/Toronto Blue Jays/Pennsylvania native/Southlake Carroll HS/Texas A&M – Stripling is expected to pitch out of the bullpen after being a starter in 21 of 29 appearances since joining team in the middle of the 2020 season.
Noah Syndergaard/RHP/LA Angels/Mansfield Legacy HS – Syndergaard, a dynamic right-handed pitcher, was drafted 38th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays out of high school. Traded to the Mets in 2012. Made his MLB debut in 2015. All-Star in 2016. Compiled a 47-31 record in New York. Did not pitch in 2020 (after Tommy John surgery) and worked only two innings last summer. Signed for one year and $21 million by the LA Angels in offseason.
Jameson Taillon/RHP/NY Yankees/The Woodlands HS – Right-handed pitcher drafted in the first round, second overall, out of high school in 2010. He has pitched four seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates and last year with the Yankees. 37-30 with a 3.82 ERA for his career.
Ryan Tepera/RHP/Los Angeles Angels/Brazoswood HS/Blinn College/Sam Houston State – The former 19th-round draft pick broke into the majors in 2015 with the Blue Jays. Has also pitched for the Cubs and the White Sox. The 34-year-old signed a two-year contract with the Angels in March. The righty will pitch out of the bullpen.
Jose Trevino/C/NY Yankees/Corpus Christi St. John Paul II/Oral Roberts – Trevino was traded Saturday from the Rangers to the Yankees for pitchers Albert Abreu and Robert Ahlstrom. He is expected to back up Kyle Higashioka.
Michael Wacha/RHP/Boston Red Sox/Iowa City native, Texarkana HS, Texas A&M University – Historic Fenway Park will be home this season for Wacha, who is in his 10th year in the majors. He’s been solid in his career, 63-48 with a 4.14 ERA. After seven years in St. Louis, he moved in 2020 to the New York Mets and in 2021 to the Tampa Bay Rays. Last year with the Rays, Wacha was 3-5 with a 5.05 ERA. He is on a one-year contract for a reported $7 million.
Bobby Witt Jr./INF/Kansas City Royals/Fort Worth-area Colleyville Heritage HS — Witt Jr. is rated as the No. 1 prospect in baseball. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft (behind Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman) is expected to play third base, next to shortstop Adalberto Mondesi. The son of former Texas Rangers pitcher Bobby Witt Sr. is known for his home-run power.
In the interest of transparency, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned every player from Texas that is considered as a lock to make a roster. I don’t know with 100 percent confidence that the players listed above will make rosters, though I’d say my degree of certainty is pretty high. This is an aggregated collection of information. A mass projection, if you will. I’ll update if anything changes drastically or if I’ve left anyone out.