Texas Tech sophomore Stephen Smith, left, and freshman shortstop Joe Baker have to be separated in a contentious match Sunday.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Late in the ninth inning Sunday, Texas Tech sophomore Stephen Smith slid hard into freshman shortstop Joe Baker. As the two barked at each other, the Texas bench ran on to the field in a rare sign of emotion for the Longhorns.

“It’s just baseball,” sophomore catcher Tres Barrera said. “We’re just sticking up for our teammate. We saw a guy went in hard. You just got to back up your guy at all times, no matter what the score is.”

The move, about protection, was equally the result of raw emotion spilling onto the field as the Texas season hung in the balance. In a must-win game, Texas faltered to Texas Tech, 5–1, in a decisive series finale, just as it has done most of this season. The Red Raiders took the series with a 2-1 advantage. 

“It’s like going to the same movie over and over again,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “We continue not to take quality at-bats with runners in scoring position. When we have opportunities to score runs, we fail offensively to take our walks and sustain the rally that we need.”

Garrido said the team entered the weekend with the hope of sneaking into the NCAA Tournament. But the Longhorns flew off the radar in front of 6,284 faithful fans Sunday as a two-run home run by Texas Tech freshman shortstop Orlando Garcia sailed over the left-field wall in the fifth inning.

Despite recording eight hits, the Longhorns failed to produce any run-scoring drives as their only run came across on a walk. Texas played 24 innings of scoreless baseball over the weekend. It plated three runs in the fifth inning of Friday’s 3–0 win and one run in each of its losses.

“We haven’t capitalized when we needed to,” Barrera said. “We haven’t been able to put timely at-bats and timely hitting when we have runners in scoring position. That’s just the way it’s been.”

Texas has a .500 record and has failed to win back-to-back Big 12 games since late March. The team also dropped three mid-week games this season against UT-Arlington, Texas A&M–Corpus Christi and Sam Houston State. The Longhorns’ struggles started in early March when the team dropped a doubleheader against San Diego.  

“We had a lot of success, a lot of fight and a lot of expectations,” Garrido said. “I think when we lost the first three-game weekend, we started to feel differently about their ability to come back and win the game. We’ve had problem with RBIs.”

The Longhorns offense started off hot but quelled as the season grew. Texas put plenty of runners on base — as it did against the Red Raiders — but failed to bring home many runs. The biggest issue that hurt the Longhorns was their focus on their batting average, Garrido said.

“We became one dimensional; we only had one goal,” Garrido said. “Anybody who’s been around baseball for a long time … they know that the biggest demon of all the ones that are around is batting average.”

With four games left in the regular season, the team’s postseason hopes likely ride on winning the Big 12 Championship, a shock considering Garrido called this team as good as the 2005 national championship team earlier this season. 

Despite all the negativity surrounding this season, the players still believe a comeback is possible, according to freshman pitcher Connor Mayes.

“[The batters] are staying with it and going through the process that coach talks about, and that’s all we can do,” Mayes said. “We might be unlucky, but we just got to stay with it.” 

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

After a three-hit, one-RBI night earlier this month, freshman shortstop Joe Baker found himself in the middle of  his first media scrum, where he was given a surprising nickname.

Despite only recording three RBIs so far in his freshman campaign, he was dubbed “the RBI maker,” a name that, at the time, didn’t quite fit.

“This is a great opportunity,” Baker said. “To be at The University of Texas — it’s an honor to be here. But I like that name.”

Baker, a native of McKinney, lived up to his moniker Sunday against Kansas as he hit his first collegiate home run and finished with a team-high four RBIs.

While he earned his nickname because of his offensive performance, his defense has kept him on the field. Baker has completed numerous highlight plays for outs at shortstop.

Baker made a sliding grab against Wichita State, diving toward third base and making a long throw to first to get the out. The play was even featured on SportsCenter as the No. 6 play of the day.

He has become a successful addition to the Texas starting lineup, and his teammates have taken notice.

“All of these guys are hard workers like Joe,” senior second baseman Brooks Marlow said. “Joe is coming in at a tough spot playing shortstop. Joe is playing so hard right now. He’s getting the job done right now. I’m proud of Joe.”

Before coming to Texas, Baker missed his senior season of high school because of an injury. But during his junior season, he hit .383 with 17 RBIs and 18 stolen bases for the McKinney Lions. Baker was named to the All-District 10-5A second team as a sophomore and a freshman.

Baker’s breakout year comes as the Longhorns struggle to find their way out of a slump. Before defeating Kansas, 16–7, and securing its first three-game series victory since March 22, Texas had lost three-straight weekend series and 11 out of its last 15. He’s currently hitting .262 with 16 hits and 8 RBIs.

“Joe Baker, at shortstop, [is] another bright spot,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “Some great plays by Baker. There are individual performances that are really good. We have good players, but they’re not able to extend the rallies.”

Texas (20–18, 8–7 Big 12) hopes its series win against Kansas can fuel a late-season rally. The Longhorns also hope Baker continues to live up to his nickname and keep up his defensive performance when they take on Texas State on Tuesday.

“We have to pick each other up,” Baker said. “No matter what coach says where to go, we just do our job.”

Texas beat the Bobcats, 6–4, in their first meeting in San Marcos on March 24. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday  at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

On Feb. 24, I previewed third basemen. Now, let’s discuss the shortstop position.

Which shortstop should go off the board first?

Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – When he is playing, Tulowitzki is one of the most valuable fantasy players at any position. However, that’s only when he’s healthy enough to play. The Rockies shortstop has played in 130 games just twice in the past six seasons and has found himself on the disabled list five times in the past seven years. It’s hard to not want to pick him, though, because of his high ceiling and successful history. It’s a toss-up as to who the number one shortstop is right now and will be at the end of the season, but I like Tulowitzki – he plays in a hitter-friendly ballpark and is surrounded by talent.

Who is making a comeback from a disappointing 2013 season?

Starlin Castro (CHI) – Saying Castro underperformed last season is an understatement. The Cubs shortstop was a complete bust. He hit just .245, stole only nine bases and had 44 runs batted in. His numbers in 2013 were significantly worse than they were in 2012, and he had 20 more at-bats. Castro will earn his keep this year and return to all-star form. He has potential to be a top-five shortstop.

Don’t sleep on this guy

Derek Jeter (NYY) – This may seem cliché, but did you see the year Mariano Rivera had in his last season upon announcing his retirement? Expect Jeter to perform the same way, especially since he is a guy that wants to finish on top. In 2012, the Yankees legend hit .316 and scored 99 runs for fantasy owners who were pleased with that type of production out of the then 38-year-old. Jeter is now 40, but he is healthy after playing just 17 games last year. That rest and healing time makes him a very good candidate to be a sleeper in 2013.

Bound to bust

Jose Reyes (TOR) – Reyes is ranked high every single year, and people who draft him always end up having to watch the waiver wire upon Reyes’ trip to the DL. Reyes is a special talent and a tough out. He is one of the fastest players in the majors, and he usually hits for a very high average while scoring plenty of runs. I just think injuries will hold him back once again, making him a bust.

My Preseason Rankings: Shortstop

  1. Troy Tulowitzki (COL)
  2. Hanley Ramirez (LAD)
  3. Jean Segura (MIL)
  4. Ian Desmond (WAS)
  5. Jose Reyes (TOR)
  6. Elvis Andrus (TEX)
  7. Starlin Castro (CHC)
  8. Ben Zobrist (TB)
  9. Everth Cabrera (SD)
  10. J.J. Hardy (BAL)
  11. Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)
  12. Andrelton Simmons (ATL)
  13. Xander Bogaerts (BOS)
  14. Jonathan Villar (HOU)
  15. Derek Jeter (NYY)
  16. Alexei Ramirez (CWS)
  17. Jurickson Profar (TEX)
  18. Jed Lowrie (OAK)
  19. Jhonny Peralta (STL)
  20. Erick Aybar (LAA)

I’ll leave you with this...

Shortstops don’t offer much of anything as far as elite players go, and this might be the most risky position to draft this season considering that three out of the top five (Tulowitzki, Ramirez and Reyes) tend to get hurt almost every year. There is also uncertainty if Segura will perform like he did in 2013, if Castro is capable of bouncing back, if Villar can put together a nice season that most people are counting on and so much more.

Each week, Adam will give his two cents about the players at each position, naming a clear-cut number one, a comeback player, a sleeper/breakout, a bust, his full rankings and a little advice as to what to do in your draft and throughout the season.

Coming into college, not many freshmen are expected to make an impact on their team right away, especially on a team coming off of as strong of a season as Texas had last year.

But shortstop Devon Tunning hopes to do just that and has already set high goals for herself this season.

“I would like to be Big 12 Freshman of the Year and then help lead the team to the College World Series again,” Tunning said.

Tunning comes to Austin after a stellar high school career at Montgomery High School, where she was named twice to the Texas Girls Coaches Association 4A All-State team. In her senior year, she hit four home runs with a .580 batting average.

Head coach Connie Clark said Tunning’s athleticism jumped out at them during the recruiting process.

“Her athleticism separates her from everyone else,” Clark said. “She has a great swing, and, on defense, she makes things look easy, but she makes the big plays.”

Tunning will have to make the adjustment from being the top player in her district to being one of many top players at Texas. While she admitted that it has been nerve-racking at times, Tunning said it’s been a different experience.

“Everyone is pushing each other, and no one person is really better than the other,” Tunning said. “We’re all together pushing each other.”

Tunning showed some of her talent in the fall season, swatting two doubles and driving in three in a double-header with Incarnate Word and Odessa College. Then against St. Edwards she hit a home run. While the fall season is not as competitive as the regular season, Tunning said it helped her get into the swing of college softball.

“It set a solid base for me to build off of this spring,” Tunning said.

In addition to adjusting to the college game, Tunning might also have to adjust to a new position. Tunning is primarily a shortstop, but that position is currently occupied by senior Taylor Thom.

Clark said they’ll probably move her around to keep her bat in the lineup.

“We’re working with her at third base, and we could put her as the designated player to keep her in the lineup,” Clark said.

Going into the season, the Longhorns will be missing the bat of Taylor Hoagland, who graduated last spring. In 2013, Hoagland led the Longhorns with a .424 batting average, hit 14 home runs and drove in 45 runs.

While she might not be the vocal leader Hoagland was, senior first baseman Karina Scott said Tunning will still be a big leader on this team.

“Hoagland was a different kind of player and they both bring different kinds of aspects,” Scott said. “But, can [Tunning] bring the impact that Hoagland did? Yes, she can.”

Tunning’s spot in the starting lineup isn’t guaranteed as Clark said it’s still a day-to-day competition to figure out who will be in the lineup, but she plans to keep working at it and getting better.

If she does that, Clark said she’ll be a big part of the team’s success.

“She gives us a lot,” Clark said. “She’s one of our top four hitters and she’s going to be an impact player.”

After playing in seven games with the USA Baseball Collegiate National team, sophomore shortstop C.J Hinojosa has been placed on the final roster and will compete in international play this month.

This is not Hinojosa’s first time playing for USA Baseball, as he held spots on the 14U and 16U national teams before coming to Texas.

Hinojosa is the 20th Longhorn to make the team and the first Longhorn player since Jordan Danks, Hoby Milner, Corey Knebel and Erich Weiss were on the squad in 2011.

In his few games before being finalized on the roster, Hinojosa made an impact. In his seventh game, he hit a double to drive in three runs for USA to win 5-2 and keep its perfect record.

“As a young student-athlete who has played for several teams in the USA Baseball organization, C.J has been comfortable playing at the highest amateur levels,” Texas baseball head coach Augie Garrido said when Hinojosa was picked to attend training camp in June.

Hinojosa played every game at shortstop for the Longhorn baseball team this season and was named to the 2013 Big 12 All-Freshman Team. He finished the regular season with a .309 batting average, second on the team, and recorded 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 29 RBIs and 11 errors.

“As his game went on throughout this season, he continued to improve,” Garrido said. “He made tremendous defensive strides as a middle infielder, especially with his accuracy. He has proven to be one of the top collegiate all-around shortstops in the nation.”

The national team began international play on July 5 in Japan with an exhibition match against the Matsuyama Industrial League and then the 39th U.S.A.-Japan series July 6. The team will come back to the U.S. for two more exhibition matches before taking on the Cuban national team July 18 in Des Moines, Iowa.

It did not take long for shortstop C.J Hinojosa to record his first signature moment with the Longhorns.
The standout freshman laced a walk-off RBI single to center field in the bottom of the ninth Saturday to score Erich Wiess and give Texas a 4-3 win over the Cornhuskers. Weiss doubled with one out in the inning to get into scoring position, and Nebraska pitcher Dylan Vogt intentionally walked Mark Payton to bring Hinojosa up to the plate.
Hinojosa, who went 2-for-5 in the game and is now hitting .429, had a brief conversation with head coach Augie Garrido before his final at bat and tried not to overthink as he went to the plate.
“My mindset was just go up there and clean my head,” Hinojosa said. “I had four at bats before that, two were good, two were bad. Augie calmed me down and I just went up there with a clear mind and had fun with it.“
The Longhorns never trailed but blew a pair of leads over the course of the game. Codey McElroy kicked off the scoring for the Longhorns with an RBI double down the third baseline to score Jacob Felts in the second inning, and Texas added a run in the third on an RBI sacrifice bunt by Mark Payton to take an early 2-0 lead.
Nebraska answered with a two-out RBI double by Bryan Peters in the fifth inning and a pinch-hit RBI single by Blake Headley to tie the score. Texas retook the lead 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh on a bases loaded walk to Payton, but Nebraska knotted the score again with a sac fly by Kash Kalkowski in the top of the eighth.
Garrido was pleased with the resiliency of his team, and he said that the ability to overcome adversity and win is key to the confidence of his team.
“Every time you win one of these types of games, it is support to the fact that if you keep your commitment to learning from the things that go wrong, you can become better, and better and better,” Garrido said.
Starting pitcher Dillon Peters had another strong outing for the Longhorns in his second start of the year, limiting the Cornhuskers to two runs (one earned) while striking out four in six plus innings. Six relievers appeared in the game for the Longhorns and combined to allow one run in three innings.
The Longhorns (5-1) will look to complete the three-game sweep of Nebraska (0-5) on Saturday. The game is scheduled to begin at 12:00 p.m. CT at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Freshman shortstop C.J. Hinojosa (9) rounds the bases in the the annual Texas baseball alumni game held Feb. 2. Hinojosa had p

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

This Friday, the Longhorns will finally get their first glimpse of freshman C.J. Hinojosa, the No. 3 shortstop recruit in the nation, according to Perfect Game, who went to Klein Collins High School in Spring. After several unfortunate mishaps, Hinojosa is finally taking the field in his first collegiate series Friday against Sacramento State. The first pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. Friday evening at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

The Longhorns will look to Hinojosa to fill several different roles this season. Hinojosa was a powerful force at the plate in high school, before a season-ending injury last year, and his talents will be a positive addition to the power-lacking Texas offense. In addition, his abilities at shortstop will help an infield that committed 70 errors in 52 games in 2012.

Hinojosa originally tried to graduate from high school early and enroll in time for last year’s spring season. However, the large academic responsibility of graduating early took a toll on Hinojosa, who decided against graduating early back in December 2011.

“It was really disappointing. I did everything that I could,” Hinojosa said of missing out on the opportunity to play for the Longhorns in 2012.

Scouts had been following him since his early playing days in high school, and when Hinojosa was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 26th round of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft, many were wary of him ever coming to the 40 Acres. After much consideration, the promise of a good education and a chance to play under Texas head coach Augie Garrido convinced Hinojosa to become a Longhorn.

“A college education is big,” Hinojosa said. “I don’t want to have nothing to fall back on.”

Hinojosa’s senior season was cut short, however, after he underwent elective surgery to repair damage in his non-throwing shoulder. The damage, he said, was likely caused by landing too many times on his shoulder while trying to catch balls up the middle.

After having surgery and sitting out most of his senior season at Klein Collins, Hinojosa is slowly getting back to form just in time for the start of the season.

“I thought I wasn’t going to play baseball again at the level that I wanted to,” Hinojosa admitted about the process of recovering after his injury. “I didn’t know if I could come back strong enough.”

Although he is not 100 percent back to the full capabilities that he had in high school, only the little things, like speed and power at the plate, need to be tweaked.

“He’s an old baseball soul,” Garrido said. “He knows the game, knows how to play it, he has good instincts. But he’s been away from the game for a long time. He’s doing OK, he’s getting into shape. He’s quicker
and stronger.”

The coaching staff has been keeping this weekend’s starting lineup pretty close to the vest. Only part of the starting pitching staff has been announced with any certainty. However, Garrido has mentioned Hinojosa could find himself at sixth in the batting order and most expect him to start at shortstop when Sacramento State comes to town this weekend.

Until that decision is finalized, Hinojosa is just focused on becoming a better ball player and is intent on helping the Longhorns make it to Omaha.

“You got to go out there and have a good attitude and play your game,” Hinojosa said. “Coach Garrido says to carry yourself like a major league baseball player, so that’s what I am going to do.”

What he wants people to know most about him is that despite the injury, despite being recruited by major league scouts, and despite all of the attention he has received as a top-ranked recruit, he is a really hardworking baseball player who likes the simple things about the game.

“I like to hit,” Hinojosa said simply. “I like to square it up.”

Baseball: C.J. Hinojosa from The Daily Texan on Vimeo.

Published on February 15, 2013 as "Horns host Hornets". 

As part of a five-player deal finalized Monday, first baseman Chris Carter (22) along with two minor league players from the Oakland Athletics’ minor league system were traded to the Houston Astros for infielder Jed Lowrie and right-handed pitcher Fernando Rodriguez. The Athletics and Astros will play each other in the AL West following the Astros’ move from the NL Central in 

Photo Credit: John Smith | Daily Texan Staff

OAKLAND, Calif.  — The Oakland Athletics acquired infielder Jed Lowrie and right-hander Fernando Rodriguez from the Houston Astros for first baseman Chris Carter and two minor leaguers on Monday.

Right-hander Brad Peacock and catcher Max Stassi also went to Houston in the deal between franchises that will be playing in the same division for the first time following the Astros’ move from the NL Central to the AL West in 2013.

Lowrie batted .244 with 16 homers and 42 RBIs in 97 games with Houston, missing two months with ankle and thumb injuries. Despite the limited playing time, Lowrie tied for the fourth most homers among all shortstops last year.

Oakland general manager Billy Beane said he has had interest in Lowrie for years and was glad to be able to get the chance to add him to the roster.

“He always had good power for a guy in the middle of the infield,” Beane said. “It’s just hard to find that kind of power from a guy who can play the middle of the infield and doing it as a switch-hitter.”

Lowrie played exclusively at shortstop last season but previously played first, second and third base as well during his four years with the Boston Red Sox. The A’s had previously signed Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima to a $6.5 million, two-year contract.

Nakajima starts off as the shortstop but Beane said there will be plenty of chances for Lowrie to play all over the infield.

“I feel most comfortable at shortstop,” Lowrie said. “But I’ve played some second base in my career as well. I’m certainly more comfortable up the middle than anywhere else on the diamond. But I’ve had some experience at third base.”

Lowrie, who played his college ball at nearby Stanford, agreed to a $2.4 million salary to avoid arbitration. The Astros are likely to have the lowest payroll in the majors in 2013.

The move sends Lowrie from a rebuilding franchise that had a major league-worst 107 losses last season to a young club coming off a surprising division title in 2012 and one with high hopes for this season.

“Considering everyone had pegged either the Rangers or Angels to win it, it was a great story to watch from a distance,” Lowrie said. “It’s a group of young guys that obviously knows how to win. Hopefully, we’ll just continue to get better.”

Rodriguez went 2-10 with a 5.37 ERA in 71 relief appearances last year. He struck out 78 batters in 70 1-3 innings. Despite the poor record and high ERA, Beane sees plenty to like from the hard-throwing Rodriguez.

“He’s got a real big arm,” Beane said. “His record, his ERA are probably a little bit misleading. He’s another guy to add to our bullpen depth, which was one of our strengths last year. We felt like we were giving them a pretty good package. This addition helped us get over the finish line.”

Carter batted .239 with 16 homers and 39 RBIs in 67 games with Oakland last year, platooning at first base with left-handed hitting Brandon Moss. He provides needed power for the Astros and could thrive at hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park.

Beane said it was difficult to part with a player like Carter who twice won the award as the organization’s top minor leaguer, but he saw little opportunity for Carter to get substantial at-bats with four regular outfielders who would rotate at designated hitter and Brandon Moss likely getting most of the first base at-bats against right-handed pitching.

Lowrie provided much more immediate help.

“Given where this club finished last year and that we have the chance to compete this year we wanted to do whatever we could to help us out right now,” Beane said.

Peacock was acquired by Oakland from Washington in the deal that sent Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals following the 2011 season. After going 15-3 with a 2.39 ERA in the minors in his final year in the Nationals system, Peacock was 12-9 with a 6.01 ERA at Triple-A Sacramento last season. He was ranked as Oakland’s top pitching prospect for 2013 by Baseball America.

The 21-year-old Stassi batted .268 with 15 homers and 45 RBIs in 84 games at Class A Stockton in 2012 and was considered Oakland’s top catching prospect.

“This trade gives us power, pitching and catching,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said in a statement. “Three valuable commodities that will help improve our organization.”

C.J. Hinojosa was supposed to enroll early at Texas and forgoe his senior year of high school eligiblity so he could play this spring, but he was unable to complete his required hours and will stay in high school. (Photo courtesy of Perfect Game)

For a while, C.J. Hinojosa had no idea where he would play baseball.

The highly touted Klein Collins High School shortstop decided to graduate from a high school a semester early to either enroll at Texas or pursue a professional baseball career. When Hinojosa was unable to handle the additional academic responsibilities, he decided to play out his high school senior season.

But with the possibility of his high school coach, who kicked him off the baseball team after learning of Hinojosa’s decision, not taking him back, Hinojosa and his parents explored nearby private schools. Once Hinojosa and his coach settled their differences, however, he was set to return to the Tigers squad. As for where he’ll be after this season, his stepfather and Klein Collins baseball booster club president Patrick Navarro claim the chances of Hinojosa playing at Texas next year are “85 to 90 percent.”

“If you would have asked the same question a month ago, I would have said his chances of coming to UT were about 20 percent,” Navarro said.

But now he’s changed his mind, Navarro said.

“I asked him, ‘So what are you feeling?’ and his response to me was, ‘If I don’t get [2011 No. 8 overall pick] Francisco Lindor money [$2.9 million], then there’s no question I’m going to Texas,” he said.

Hinojosa‘s daily routine while trying to skip his final semester of high school was a grueling one. He would attend his regular high school classes from around 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., followed by two to three hours devoted to Texas Tech online classes — English on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, along with precalculus and physics on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Coupled with seeing a tutor two days a week and workouts, Hinojosa’s schedule became too overwhelming.

“He was sick, he was stressed and he couldn’t handle the school work,” said Navarro. “We were so disappointed in the coaches. C.J. didn’t want to go to any other school, though. He wanted to stay there with the guys he had played with for all four years. It was kind of a trying time but it worked itself out.”

When Hinojosa realized he wouldn’t be able to complete the coursework necessary to graduate early, he had to mend the relationship he had with his high school head coach, Miguel Carlos, who kicked Hinojosa off the baseball team after learning he wanted to leave before his senior season at Klein Collins.

“When he told me wanted to forego the second half of his senior season to go to UT, I was definitely upset with the decision,” Carlos said. “He was removed from my baseball class because I needed to find me a shortstop. He didn’t like that decision but understood it.”

Following a heart-to-heart conversation between Carlos and his shortstop, as well as a visit to Hinojosa’s house by the third-year head coach, the path was clear for Hinojosa to play for Carlos again. Hinojosa, who also considered playing at USC and Cal State Fullerton, also looks like he’s settled the issue of where he’ll play after his high school days are over. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Hinojosa is solidly committed to Texas.

“He’s an advanced baseball player,” said Texas head baseball coach Augie Garrido. “He’s advanced over people his same age at this point in time.”

Hinojosa, by his count, hit 26 home runs as a junior last season. He began playing baseball when he was four and starting competing in select baseball tournaments at age 8. Since then, Hinojosa has developed into a bona fide professional shortstop prospect and a formidable presence in the batter’s box.

“[He was the] best high school hitter I’ve seen in a long time,” Carlos said of Hinojosa. “You know how they talk about how the game slows down for kids? I think that’s what happens with this kid. He just sees everything at a different level.”

Carlos is in charge of a Klein Collins baseball program that has provided several players to Texas over the years. Senior pitchers Sam Stafford, who was recently lost for the season with a shoulder injury, and Austin Dicharry played for the Tigers before suiting up for the Longhorns. The Klein Collins football team also sent offensive lineman Garrett Greenlea to the 40 Acres.

Meanwhile, Hinojosa will be joined by third baseman Austin Dean and left-handed pitcher Cory Geisler on the Texas baseball squad next season.

“It’s a great problem to have, I’m not going to lie to you,” said Carlos. “I’ve enjoyed seeing these kids and watching how far they’ve come. They were playing at a high level when they came in. They were starting varsity players their freshman year.”

Klein Collins was swept by Lufkin in the first round of the playoffs last season but Carlos said he fully expects his team to compete in the state tournament held in Round Rock this June.

As for Hinojosa, expect him to be competing for the Longhorns next year — even if he didn’t expect to be a month ago.

After being charged with marijuana possession and evading police this summer it seemed as if Jordan Etier's time at Texas was all but over. He was recently reinstated to the team, sans scholarship.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

When shortstop Brandon Loy was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Draft, the Longhorns lost half of their starting middle infield. After Jordan Etier was arrested and charged with marijuana possession and evading police four months later, it seemed as if they would lose the other half.

But Texas announced Wednesday that Etier would be reinstated to the baseball team and that the senior second baseman would serve a four-game suspension. In addition to sitting out four games, Etier will also not have a scholarship while playing for the Longhorns this season.

“With there being closure in Jordan’s case, the University decided to revisit the situation and his punishment,” said head coach Augie Garrido in a statement. “After he was dismissed from the team in the fall, Jordan continued to attend class which was looked on in a positive light by the administration. He also showed his intention to continue his education and graduate from the University of Texas whether or not he was member of the team, which demonstrated his effort to learn and grow from the incident.”

Garrido was himself suspended four games three season ago when he pleaded guilty to drunken driving in February 2009, a little more than two weeks after he was pulled over at about 1 a.m. and admitted to a police officer that he had consumed five glasses of wine. The NCAA Division I all-time leader in wins with 1,817 victories, Garrido was also sentenced to four days in Travis County Jail and fined $500 in July 2009.

Etier, who hit .237 as a junior last season, will be eligible to return to the Longhorns lineup Feb. 24 when Texas faces Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. The Cardinals are ranked No. 3 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll while the Longhorns checked in at No. 5. Stanford, who was swept in the Super Regional round last season by North Carolina – the team that knocked Texas out of the College World Series last year – lost two out of three to the Longhorns at Austin in 2011.

Texas will bring back three of its starting infielders from a year ago as catcher Jacob Felts and third baseman Erich Weiss will join Etier in his final season with the Longhorns. They will also return two starting outfielders, Mark Payton and Cohl Walla. Texas loses its ace, Taylor Jungmann, a first-round selection by the Milwaukee Brewers in last June’s MLB Draft, and another starting pitcher in Cole Green, who was picked up by the Cincinnati Reds in the ninth round. But the Longhorns will welcome back southpaw starter Sam Stafford, who turned down the New York Yankees that drafted him in the second round and sensational closer Corey Knebel, who tied a school record with 19 saves as a freshman.

The Longhorns open the 2012 season with a three-game homestand against Duke beginning Feb. 17 at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.