One bright glimmer of hope for the 2017 Texas Longhorns baseball team -- regardless of whether Augie Garrido is still the head coach -- is the talent of Dallas Jesuit pitcher/outfielder Kyle Muller, who earned recognition as the Gatorade Texas Player of the Year on Wednesday.
Muller is now eligible to receive the National Player of the Year award, which in the past has gone to future Major League standouts like Derek Jeter, Roy Halladay, and David Price.
In addition to Muller's athletic exploits on the baseball field, he earned the award because of his "high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field." In particular, Muller maintained a grade average of 86.4, mentored younger students in the Big Brother program, and went on a school-sponsored service mission.
But it's his ability on the mound and at the plate that should have Texas fans eagerly anticipating his arrival on the Forty Acres -- the 6'7, 245-pounder has currently posted a record of 8-1 as a pitcher with a 0.49 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 74 innings. At one point, he set a national high school record by striking out 33 consecutive batters. As a hitter, he has a .392 average with 15 home runs and 52 RBI in 40 games.
"Kyle Muller is one of the best competitors that I've ever come across in my nine years of coaching," said Allen Somwang, head coach at Nimitz High. "The guy is a machine on the mound and you can tell that his presence makes his whole team better."
He's also a guy who has played some quarterback for Dallas Jesuit and comes from a family steeped in athletic excellence -- his brother is committed to play for UTSA, his grandfather played football at Houston, his great grandfather was an All-SWC performer at Rice, and he has uncles who played basketball at Texas A&M and football at Oklahoma, respectively.
The only concern now is whether Muller goes high enough in the 2016 MLB Draft to convince him to sign instead of going to college. It's certainly a possibility, as he's ranked among the top-100 overall prospects in the country by Baseball America. However, Texas has had some good luck in getting players on campus recently, with 30 of the 31 signees in the last three years making it to Austin.