ElViento: One of the bright spots in last year’s Cougar baseball season was the emergence of junior left-handed pitcher Donnie Joseph. The man they call DoJo put together a season that seemed to keep getting better as it went along. He ended up with a 2.16 ERA in 50 innings pitched, striking out 75 batters. Opponents hit just .186 against him. He had a rarely-seen presence on the mound. When you absolutely needed an out, you knew he would get it. I’m fairly certain I’ve told this story in this space before, but it’s worth repeating: in a win over (eventual College World Series participant) Rice that year, Joseph came on for the save in the ninth. He induced a fly out from the first hitter. With a 1-2 count on pinch hitter Daniel Gonzales-Luna, Joseph threw a beautiful pitch that froze the Rice hitter. It looked for all the world like strike three. Instead it was called ball two. The Cougar contingent loudly voiced its complaints at the home plate umpire. Joseph just took the throw from the catcher and marched back to the mound. He had that look. Sometimes baseball is incredibly predictable. I would have bet my life that he was going to strike Gonzales-Luna out on the next pitch. He did. He then struck out stud shortstop Rick Hague on three pitches. Ball game.
Another aspect that bears repeating: individuals don’t come much more high quality than Donnie. After every game, he would seek out fans and thank them for coming. When the team went through an extreme rough patch to begin the season, Joseph remained upbeat, refused to blame his teammates, and assured fans that things were going to get better. The season may not have ended where we all wanted it to, but things did get better, largely thanks to the clutch pitching of DoJo.
After the season, it became obvious that Joseph would be a hot commodity in the MLB draft. Cougar fans were faced with the awkward predicament of wanting to see Joseph do well for himself, while also kind of hoping he would get drafted low enough that he would choose to come back for his senior season. Heaven knows we could have used him this year. But the Cincinnati Reds drafted Joseph in the third round, and he understandably chose to sign.
Joseph’s professional career has thus far been a resounding success. He was placed in Rookie ball, where he got promoted after just 11.2 innings of work. That sometimes happens when you put up an ERA of under 1.00, with nearly twice as many strikeouts (11) as hits allowed (6). In 20+ innings of work at the A-ball level, Joseph’s ERA rose a bit, but he continued to show a remarkable ability to miss bats, with 31 strikeouts.
Then came the 2010 season, in which Joseph has put up kid-playing-a-video-game-on-a-level-that-is-too-easy-for-him numbers. In 11.1 innings, DoJo has allowed just one run on 5 hits, with 18 strikeouts against 2 walks. In his minor league career, Joseph still has not allowed a home run. A friend of the blog recently e-mailed me to inform me that, for his efforts, Donnie has been named Dayton Dragon’s pitcher of the month, and inspired bloggers to get a little silly.
A Scott & Holman congratulations, and continued best of luck to DoJo.
In women’s sports, the Cougar soccer team recently signed Kylie Cook, named the best player in the Houston area by the Houston Chronicle. Meanwhile, the softball team will benefit next year from the services of a pair of sisters, Diedre and Haley Outon whose incredible story can be read here. Be sure to get your tissues ready before you click on that link. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. (Thanks to CoogFans poster AustinCoog93 for the link.)
The Houston Cougar men’s basketball program has recently announced its first two signees of the James Dickey era, a pair of forwards. First it was Midland JC transfer Jonathon Simmons, followed quickly by Mikhail McLean of Second Baptist High. Let’s see, a JuCo player, and a 6’7″ forward who only grabbed 4.4 rebounds per game in high school. Yeah, those don’t sound like the types of players Tom Penders was recruiting at all. But hey, at least they’re from the Houston area!
(*Electroshock collar activates*)
Aaah! I mean, look at McLean’s other offers! Boston College, Auburn and Arkansas! Simmons starred on one of the top JuCo teams in the country! Not bad at all.
Honestly, you can’t judge Dickey & Co. by what they put together with this recruiting class. They’re being forced to try and grab some impact players for next year at the last second. All sarcasm aside, Simmons and McLean could end up being good players for us. But it will be next year’s class that proves whether or not Dickey and assistants Daniyal Robinson, Ulric Maligi and Alvin Brooks have what it takes in the recruiting game.
Point Guard Desmond Wade is believed to be transferring, so let’s take a look at what the 2010-11 roster looks like so far:
Point Guard (2)
Zamal Nixon, Senior
Nick Haywood, Sophomore
Adam Brown, Senior
Bryce Clark, Sophomore
Maurice McNeal, Senior
Kahmell Broughton, Senior
Kirk Van Slyke, Sophomore
Kendrick Washington, Sophomore
A few thoughts:
-Haywood was the Louisiana 5-A player of the year as a senior in high school, but he didn’t get much work as a freshman last year. Let’s hope Nixon is ready to play some big minutes at the point, and/or that Haywood is ready to step up.
-I think the big storyline so far has to be where the scoring will come from. With the loss of Aubrey Coleman, there isn’t a proven scorer on the roster. That will have to be addressed, one way or another.
-This could be a big team. Out of ten players listed, only three (Nixon, Haywood, Brown) would really qualify as guards. Everybody else is 6’5″ and above. “Big Team” sounds good, but the natural second part of that equation (“Slow Team”) may be a very real detriment. While Brown improved his defense last year, he’s not exactly a proven perimeter stopper. One wonders who’s going to guard the other team’s guards.
That’s about all for me for now. What say you, Cougar faithful? How are you feeling about next year’s team?