Taylor Teagarden

Taylor Teagarden ,middle, hit .333 in 2005, when he helped Texas win a national title. Now he’s trying to bring a title to Round Rock. (Photo Courtesy of Round Rock Express)

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in The Daily Texan on July 20, 2011. Former Longhorns catcher Taylor Teagarden, profiled here, helped Texas win a national championship in 2005 and will play in Saturday's Alumni Game.

Those who attend minor league baseball games are usually unfamiliar with the players they watch, but there is one name that piques fans’ interest when it’s called at the Dell Diamond.

“You get some UT fans out there in the stadium, and I get some extra cheers when my name gets called,” said Round Rock Express catcher Taylor Teagarden. “It’s pretty cool to see that people still remember me. It says a lot about UT fans in general, and how much the University impacts people.”

When J. Brent Cox finished off the Florida Gators in the 2005 College World Series, it was Teagarden that caught the championship-clinching strike three. Now, Teagarden is catching for the Express pitching staff. Following a three-week stint with the Texas Rangers, Teagarden is back in Round Rock, minutes from where he played college baseball. He’s helping the Express hang on to a division lead that currently stands at eight games.

“I’m having a blast here,” Teagarden said. “This is one of the best clubhouses I’ve ever been a part of. There’s a lot of talent, a lot of leadership and a lot of veteran guys here. We’re winning games. Hopefully we’ll keep this up and make a nice little playoff run.”

Teagarden hit .318 during his most recent trip to the big leagues, saving his best game for last when he went 3-for-5 with two doubles July 1 against Florida. Since being sent back to Triple A Round Rock on July 4, however, Teagarden has just four hits in 31 at-bats. On June 5, he boasted a .355 batting average with the Express. Teagarden is still hitting a respectable .281, but may need to recall some lessons he learned while in a Longhorn uniform to break out of his slump.

“[Playing at Texas] let me know that I’m a winner and I can survive any challenge,” Teagarden said. “Baseball’s a game of failure. I experienced that a little bit and figured out how to overcome it, how to work hard and improve myself. It taught me how to approach baseball and the game of life.”

Before Teagarden was called up June 12, the Express were a half game back in the PCL American South Division. When he was sent back to Round Rock, they were seven games ahead of Albuquerque. If the Express stay on top of their division through the end of the regular season, they’ll be in the playoffs and in pursuit of a championship.

Good thing they have Teagarden behind the plate. Thanks to his days at Texas, he knows a thing or two about winning championships.

Printed on 07/21/2011 as: Teagarden brings local flair to Round Rock clubhouse

Belt, Stubbs, Jungmann, and Teagarden to play Alumni Game

Brandon Belt, Drew Stubbs, Taylor Jungmann and Taylor Teagarden will be among the former Longhorns playing in Saturday's Alumni Game.

Belt hit .257 with 56 RBIs as the starting first baseman for the World Series champion San Francisco Giants last season.  Stubbs, who was the starting center fielder on the Longhorns' 2005 national title squad, hit 14 home runs and stole 30 bases for the Cincinnati Reds last year. Teagarden, Texas' starting catcher on the 2005 championship team, backed up Matt Weiters for the Baltimore Orioles last season. Jungmann, the Brewers' first-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, is considered one of Milwaukee's top pitching prospects.

Teagarden and Quintanilla won the College World Series together and are still teammates with the Orioles.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Two years after Soccoro High School shortstop Omar Quintanilla signed up to play for Texas, Creekview High School catcher Taylor Teagarden did the same. They’ve been following each other around ever since.

Both won national titles during their respective three-year stints with the Longhorns before moving on to the big leagues. Five years after Teagarden was drafted in the third round of the 2005 MLB Draft by the Rangers, the same organization picked up Quintanilla, then a free agent, two days before Christmas and less than five months after being suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

They played together a bit with the Rangers and Round Rock Express, their Triple-A affiliate. Teagarden was traded to the Orioles last December, seven months before Quintanilla, then with the Mets, was traded to the Orioles as well.

“It’s been a little crazy since college,” Quintanilla said. “I knew Teagarden was a good player, and I’ve been lucky enough to play with him in the big leagues with the Rangers and now here with the Orioles. What a coincidence.”

Teagarden batted .220 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs in 118 games over four seasons with the Rangers while Quintanilla recorded just one hit, a triple and 22 at-bats during his only season with them. They both spent most of the 2011 season with Round Rock, each hitting close to .300 for the Express. Quintanilla, now an everyday shortstop, and Teagarden, Matt Weiters’ backup behind the plate, were among several players to play with the Rangers last season and the Orioles this year, including Tommy Hunter, Pedro Strop and Darren O’Day.

“I played just a little bit with Omar last year,” Teagarden said. “It’s just nice to see him, because I tried to keep up with him ever since he got drafted. It’s just nice for us to be in the big leagues, and it’s kind of unique that we’re on the same team.”

The 2003 Longhorns squad that Quintanilla and Teagarden both played for won 50 games and earned the program’s NCAA-record 29th trip to the College World Series before falling to Rice twice in Omaha. But Quintanilla batted .329 with while driving in 32 runs and scoring 41 in 2002, the year Texas won a national championship, while Teagarden hit .333 with seven home runs and 33 RBIs three seasons later, when the Longhorns won it all.

With the Orioles, Quintanilla is hitting a career-best .261 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 28 games while Teagarden has just five hits in 38 at-bats over 14 contests, although one of them was a game-winning RBI double in the 10th inning of a 1-0 victory over the Rays earlier this month. Last night he went 2-for-3 with a home run in the Orioles’ 5-3 win over the White Sox.

Winning a World Series is certainly a more daunting task than capturing a College World Series crown, but knowing what it takes to win a national title could prove valuable on a team that could make its first postseason appearance since 1996.

“In college, you can have a couple dominant pitchers,” Teagarden said. “In the big leagues, it’s a different atmosphere. There’s a lot more obstacles to surpass. You’ve got to play four long series.”

If the regular season ended today, the Orioles would earn one of the two American League Wild Card berths, along with the As.

“It’s more exciting when you’re playing for something,” Quintanilla said. “At Texas, [head baseball coach Augie] Garrido showed us a lot about teamwork and what it takes to win at that level ... Being the best in college was my goal for a long time. Now that I’m here, my goal is to get a ring.”

The 2011 Major League Baseball season is just over a month old, and five former Longhorns are contributing to big league clubs. We take a look around the league to check in with former Texas players.  

Drew Stubbs, CF, Cincinnati

The third-year man has continued his rise to the top in 2011, building on last year’s coming-out party with the Reds and a trip to the playoffs. Stubbs is hitting a career-high .259 and is second on the team in home runs (5) and runs scored (22). Stubbs has provided more than just production at the plate and has flashed his speed with a team-high 10 stolen bases in 30 games. The Texarkana native has been solid defensively in center field for Dusty Baker’s club and will need to keep up his improving play if the Reds hope to win the National League Central once again.

Huston Street, RP, Colorado

The National League leader in saves with 10, Street has been a huge part of the Rockies’ (17-10) success throughout the first month of the season. The right hander has been nearly unhittable, with 17 strikeouts in just 16.1 innings of work. He’s also been perfect in save situations and already has half as many saves as he did a year ago. Despite pitching in a hitter-friendly park in Coors Field, Street has been strong at home with a miniscule 1.29 ERA. Street, in his third year as a Rockies, appears to have returned to the form he showed in 2009 when Colorado won the NL Wild Card.

Taylor Teagarden, C, Texas

Teagarden has seen limited time behind the plate for the Rangers, appearing in two games in relief of starting catcher Yorvit Torrealba. Teagarden is getting a chance to play for his hometown team but the fourth-year player has found it tough to see time on the field. The 27-year-old has been a back up since his MLB debut but he’s proven a reliable option for the Rangers. Torrealba is batting .277, so look for Teagarden’s opportunities to continue to be limited.

Sam LeCure, SP, Cincinnati

LeCure has been a decent fifth starter for the Reds in 2011. Cincinnati has won two of the right hander’s four starts, but LeCure’s record is 0-1. The 26-year-old has not gone longer than six innings but has given some relief to the Reds’ bullpen. LeCure gave up four home runs in an April 19 start against Arizona, after which he said, “Every ball hit in the air I was scared about.” Cincinnati will need continued production at the bottom of the rotation from LeCure if they hope to return to the postseason.

James Russell, RP, Chicago Cubs

Russell has started four games for the Cubs and made four appearances out of the bullpen this season. Russell’s 1-4 record hasn’t helped the Cubs (14-16) move out of the NL Central cellar, but the left hander is still learning how to pitch in the majors. Russell made his first start on April 12 against Houston but surrendered seven runs in 1.2 innings. The Cubs figure to struggle this season, and Russell will earn valuable experience as a fifth-year starter. If Russell can learn from veteran pitchers Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Carlos Zambrano, he could develop into a solid starter for Chicago.