Following head coach David Pierce’s arrival at Texas two seasons ago, the Longhorn coaching staff began awarding annual team honors to highlight the successes of standout players at the conclusion of each season.
Whether for work on or off the field, one player is selected for each of six awards: team MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Academic MVP and the Longhorn Award.
Unsurprisingly, former junior second baseman and current player in the Detroit Tigers organization, Kody Clemens, was named Texas’ MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.
“Really honored to be named the Brooks Kieschnick MVP and Keith Moreland Offensive Player of the Year.” Clemens tweeted. “Very cool to know my name will be listed next to my brother (former Texas first baseman Kacy Clemens) forever! Hook ‘em!”
Clemens was consistently one of America’s top hitters in 2018. Recognized as an All-American by multiple sites and publications, Clemens finished the year with a .351 batting average, 24 home runs and 72 RBI. The Big 12 Player of the Year ranked second in the nation and in program history with his 24 home runs.
Clemens was also a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the nation’s best player, but lost out to University of California at Berkeley’s Andrew Vaughn.
Another player who received multiple awards from the Texas baseball program is senior first baseman Jake McKenzie. McKenzie, who recently graduated with a degree in petroleum engineering, finished college with a 3.95 GPA. That was enough to give him the team’s Academic MVP. McKenzie also collected the team’s Defensive MVP honor.
“Thanks to my coaches for these team awards!” McKenzie tweeted. “Awesome way to end my career on the Forty Acres.”
McKenzie, who didn’t play first base until his senior season, stepped into the position and thrived. McKenzie’s most impressive defensive performance of the year might have been on April 17, when he played all nine positions against the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley.
Two others recognized for their play were a pair of redshirt junior relievers: Parker Joe Robinson and Andy McGuire. Robinson, who rarely appeared before the 2018 season, was an integral piece in Texas’ trip to the College World Series, and that’s what earned him Pitcher of the Year.
The team’s top reliever throughout the season, Robinson made his living by arriving into sticky situations and miraculously escaping them. He quickly earned the nickname “Houdini” for his magical performances en route to finishing the season with a 3-0 record, complemented by a 1.71 ERA
McGuire was given the Longhorn award, “given to the player who most embodies what it means to be a Texas Longhorn,” according to a Texas baseball news release. McGuire, who wasn’t even on the roster in 2017, found his way back onto the squad in 2018 and became the team’s closer in the middle of the season.
“Andy showed great leadership and perseverance over the years but in 2018 he also showed the ability to be an exceptional two-way player,” Pierce said in a Texas Athletics news release. “Andy’s pride, integrity, and character showed throughout the season and that’s why he is this year’s recipient of the James and Huston Street Longhorn Awad.”
None of the players gifted these accolades will be present on the Texas baseball roster in 2019, having moved on to careers on and off the diamond.