On Sunday, the Texas Longhorns added another piece to the 2020 puzzle for a baseball program looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2019 season that concluded early with a last-place finish in the Big 12 standings with the pledge of Orange Coast College shortstop Murphy Stehly.
Burnt Orange Nation confirmed the commitment on Monday, which was originally reported by Dustin McComas of Orangebloods.
A 5’10, 190-pounder who played his high school baseball at a Christian school north of San Diego, Stehly landed at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa looking for a bigger opportunity in college baseball.
Known as a player with a line drive swing and good torque through the hitting zone in high school, Stehly grew into a productive player at the plate as a sophomore with a slash line of .374/.405/.523. With only 10 walks in 155 at bats last season, he doesn’t draw enough free passes to slot as a potential No. 2 hitter, but his ability to make contact and put the ball in play does give him some appeal there — he only struck out 11 times during his second season in Costa Mesa.
There is a bit of pop in his bat, too, as he hit 17 doubles and two home runs for a team that won the CCCAA State Championship. Those are the official numbers from the school, but the highlights do appear to show several more home runs from Stehly.
If there’s a major concern with Stehly, it’s that his fielding percentage was less than excellent — at .935 with 12 errors, he was nearly 30 points below the mark posted by David Hamilton last season and nine points lower than the poor effort by Masen Hibbeler this year. So projecting average play there next season from Stehly seems like a stretch.
However, Stehly’s profile as a contact hitter makes him a potential contributor next season for a program that finished dead last in the Big 12 in hits and batting average. His addition may also mean that the staff isn’t confident about Hamilton’s return after he was selected in the eighth round last week by the Milwaukee Brewers.
If Hamilton does depart for the professional ranks, he’ll make three shortstops who won’t return from the 2019 team — Hibbeler graduated and freshman Bryce Reagan recently announced his transfer.