Longhorns in the Majors

Evan Vieth, Sports Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the April 19, 2022 flipbook.

One of the most storied programs in college baseball history, Texas has produced notable talent, including pitcher Roger Clemens, and other all-stars like Huston Street and Dave Chalk. With the MLB season starting post lockout, many familiar Longhorn faces are continuing on to the highest level. 

Brandon Belt

San Francisco Giants

The University of Texas currently has five alumni in Major League Baseball. The most prominent of which is Brandon Belt, first baseman for the San Francisco Giants and former player for the Longhorns in 2008 and 2009.

Belt was notably a pitcher when he transferred to Texas from San Jacinto College before the 2008 season, but because of shoulder problems, Belt decided to switch to first base. Belt went on to hit .321 with 14 home runs with Texas before being drafted by the San Francisco Giants. Since then, Belt has been a staple first baseman for the team for 12 years, and this year Belt continues his success at the plate. 

Belt is off to one of the hottest starts in MLB, slashing .345/.441/.690 through 34 plate appearances alongside two home runs. Belt has been one of the best hitters in MLB since 2020, and he continues to lead the 2021 NL West champions through a tough division.

Corey Knebel

Philadelphia Phillies

Corey Knebel may be in a new city, but he continues to be one of the best relievers in baseball. A three-year closer with the Longhorns from 2011-13, Knebel is one of Texas’ best relievers ever, and his success in Texas continued into the major leagues.

In 2017, Knebel was one of the best in the world at shutting down batters in the ninth inning, and though injuries have slowed down his career, Knebel is back in form in Philadelphia. The Phillies reliever has yet to give up an earned run, only walking one and giving up only one hit as well as completing a save in the Phillies’ April 9 game against the Athletics.

Knebel’s successful year with the Dodgers last year earned him a large contract in Philadelphia, and he’s looking to lead the team into its first playoff appearance since 2011.

Dillon Peters

Pittsburgh Pirates

Dillon Peters, though not as notable as Belt and Knebel, has solidified himself a role on a struggling Pirates roster. The three-year starter from 2012-14 and teammate of Knebel had struggled in the majors, bouncing around three teams in six years, but Peters seems to have a home in Pittsburgh.

Peters pitched his best baseball yet in 2021, accruing a 3.71 ERA in 26.2 innings with six starts. In 2022 Peters is responsible for two of Pittsburgh’s only five wins, retiring all six batters he faced in a two-inning relief appearance on April 13 and following that up with another two-inning win against the Washington Nationals. 

Hoby Milner

Milwaukee Brewers

This year is also the year of firsts for former Texas pitchers. Hoby Milner, a six-year veteran in the MLB, notched his first win of his career on April 12 versus the Baltimore Orioles. The Brewers reliever retired Jorge Mateo with two runners on to preserve the Brewers tie in the sixth, leading to his first major league win.

Bryce Elder

Atlanta Braves

Alongside Milner’s first win, 2020 fifth round pick Bryce Elder made his first MLB appearance after just two minor league years, impressive for such a young player. Elder pitched a 5.2 inning, three-run game against the Washington Nationals to aid the Braves in a 16-4 win. Elder is the most recent of Texas alums to make his major league debut, the first since Mark Payton in 2020 for the Cincinnati Reds.