The 2011 Major League Baseball season is just over a month old, and five former Longhorns are contributing to big league clubs. We take a look around the league to check in with former Texas players.
Drew Stubbs, CF, Cincinnati
The third-year man has continued his rise to the top in 2011, building on last year’s coming-out party with the Reds and a trip to the playoffs. Stubbs is hitting a career-high .259 and is second on the team in home runs (5) and runs scored (22). Stubbs has provided more than just production at the plate and has flashed his speed with a team-high 10 stolen bases in 30 games. The Texarkana native has been solid defensively in center field for Dusty Baker’s club and will need to keep up his improving play if the Reds hope to win the National League Central once again.
Huston Street, RP, Colorado
The National League leader in saves with 10, Street has been a huge part of the Rockies’ (17-10) success throughout the first month of the season. The right hander has been nearly unhittable, with 17 strikeouts in just 16.1 innings of work. He’s also been perfect in save situations and already has half as many saves as he did a year ago. Despite pitching in a hitter-friendly park in Coors Field, Street has been strong at home with a miniscule 1.29 ERA. Street, in his third year as a Rockies, appears to have returned to the form he showed in 2009 when Colorado won the NL Wild Card.
Taylor Teagarden, C, Texas
Teagarden has seen limited time behind the plate for the Rangers, appearing in two games in relief of starting catcher Yorvit Torrealba. Teagarden is getting a chance to play for his hometown team but the fourth-year player has found it tough to see time on the field. The 27-year-old has been a back up since his MLB debut but he’s proven a reliable option for the Rangers. Torrealba is batting .277, so look for Teagarden’s opportunities to continue to be limited.
Sam LeCure, SP, Cincinnati
LeCure has been a decent fifth starter for the Reds in 2011. Cincinnati has won two of the right hander’s four starts, but LeCure’s record is 0-1. The 26-year-old has not gone longer than six innings but has given some relief to the Reds’ bullpen. LeCure gave up four home runs in an April 19 start against Arizona, after which he said, “Every ball hit in the air I was scared about.” Cincinnati will need continued production at the bottom of the rotation from LeCure if they hope to return to the postseason.
James Russell, RP, Chicago Cubs
Russell has started four games for the Cubs and made four appearances out of the bullpen this season. Russell’s 1-4 record hasn’t helped the Cubs (14-16) move out of the NL Central cellar, but the left hander is still learning how to pitch in the majors. Russell made his first start on April 12 against Houston but surrendered seven runs in 1.2 innings. The Cubs figure to struggle this season, and Russell will earn valuable experience as a fifth-year starter. If Russell can learn from veteran pitchers Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Carlos Zambrano, he could develop into a solid starter for Chicago.