While it would have been easy to assume the Texas baseball roster was set for the upcoming season, UT head coach David Pierce and his coaching staff received a welcome addition to the pitching staff when former Angelina (Texas) College pitcher Drew Shifflet announced his decision to further his career at Texas on Wednesday night.
The decision to drop the program at Angelina College was disappointing but I believe there is always a silver lining," Shifflet said on Twitter Wednesday evening. "Thanks to my family, friends, and coaches at Angelina, mine is that I will be continuing my academic and baseball career at the University of Texas."
The decision to drop the program at Angelina College was disappointing but I believe there is always a silver lining. Thanks to my family, friends, and coaches at Angelina, mine is that I will be continuing my academic and baseball career at the University of Texas. pic.twitter.com/j6CjnblIof— Drew Shifflet (@shifflet44) July 23, 2020
Shifflet will be a junior when he steps on campus this fall after his former school, in Lufkin, Texas, dropped its baseball team for the 2020-21 school year. Primarily a starting pitcher or middle reliever, Shifflet appeared in 20 games over a two-year career at the JUCO level, going 5-3 with a 3.64 earned run average. He struck out a total of 101 batters, including 28 during the abbreviated 2020 campaign.
A two-way player, Shifflet made the most of his appearances at the plate while playing at Angelina, batting .667 (in three at-bats), hitting one homer and driving in three runs. Shifflet might be used in the same kind of dual role as the way in which Pierce used former reliever Kam Fields in pinch-hitting and pinch-running situations.
The Texas baseball team has already added to its pitching staff this offseason, with Texas-San Antonio grad transfer Palmer Wenzel coming in to strengthen the bullpen and incoming freshman LeBarron Johnson joining a solid group of starting pitchers.
It is unclear whether Pierce will use Shifflet as a reliever or starter, or perhaps a bit of both. However, one thing is clear: the addition of another pitcher is a positive move for Texas baseball, especially after the Horns lost three pitchers (including two recruits) to the Major League Baseball draft, and two more to the transfer portal following the 2020 season.
"The 'Horns aren't just getting a very good pitcher," said Gary Stallard, the Sports Information Director at Angelina College. "Drew is a high-quality young man and the consummate teammate. He's quiet, but he's got a wry sense of humor that takes people off guard if they don't know him. While he was here at Angelina College, he was a regular at nearly all our sporting events, cheering on his classmates. In addition, he was involved in many of our community-related activities."
He added, "I won't lie. I'm truly going to miss that kid."