06/03/2004 2:30 PM ET
Texas' Street a born winner
Closer, father enjoyed Longhorn success
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The eyes of Texas will be upon a young man named Huston from the city of Austin.
|Huston Street is the all-time saves leader at the University of Texas. (courtesy U. of Texas)
Right-hander Huston Street, the most prolific closer in the University of Texas history and the son of a Longhorns football hero, is expected to fulfill his Lone Star destiny and become a local legend when he is drafted in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft next week.
This season, the junior missed 24 games with a groin injury, but still went 4-1 with a 1.60 ERA and 10 saves through the first 59 games in 2004. For his career, he is 16-3 with a 1.29 ERA and 39 saves in three seasons. He recorded 158 strikeouts and 33 walks using primarily a fastball and a slider in 160 2/3 innings pitched.
"Any kid my age is excited about the draft and I am, but from my standpoint, I'm trying to focus on the process of doing my job day in and day out then letting the draft take care of itself," Street, 20, said. "I'm excited about it, but as far as I'm concerned, winning will take care of everything."
Winning is something the Street family has become accustomed to over the years. Huston's father James Street -- a three-time All Southwest Conference football player -- led the Longhorns at quarterback to a National Championship in 1969. The elder Street was also a two-time All-America selection as a pitcher for Texas.
"We are very proud of Huston because he's always been a good kid and he works hard," James said. "He lives his life right and he tries to do the right thing. He's a kid, so I'm sure he makes mistakes, but we couldn't be more proud of the way he sets goals and achieves them."
Undoubtedly, the younger Street has reaped the genetic rewards of having an All-America father, but growing up in Austin, only a few miles away from the University of Texas campus, the father and son discussed life just as often as they discussed baseball.
The off-the-field lessons were just as important.
"My father taught me that it's not always about performance, but it's about mentality and the perspective you take," Huston said. "He likes to take a positive perspective on everything, but he also likes to take an aggressive and hard-working point of view. He would say that every single day you either get a little better or you get a little worse and that is my foundation. Whether that's in baseball or school or church, I try to get better everyday."
The Street smarts have worked so far.
As a freshman in 2002, Street was a third-team All-America selection, earning 14 saves with a team-best 0.96 ERA. He set a College World Series record with four saves and was named the series' Most Outstanding Player for his efforts.
In 2003, he was USA Baseball's 2003 Athlete of the Year, tying the mark for career saves with 10 last summer, and was a first-team All-America selection. Additionally, Street was named a first-team Summer All-America selection, the most valuable player of the USA/Japan Summer series, and first-team All-Big 12.
"I believe in myself and I think that can be the difference," Street said. "Confidence is such a special thing and I think it's hard to maintain the confidence over a long period of time. That's why professionals are professionals and I think I can be mentality prepared to do that. I have done it before and I can do it again."
Because of his maturity level and ability, some scouts consider Street a "safe pick" who could follow a path similar to relievers David Aardsma, Ryan Wagner and Chad Cordero, all first-round picks in 2003 who played in the Major Leagues last season.
Street has heard the comparisons, but he's trying not to listen. He believes he still has a lot of work to do and he's not going to worry about a Major League debut at the moment. He is also open to becoming a starting pitcher, a situational pitcher or a middle reliever if necessary.
"That's something that is out of my hands and that decision is going to be made by someone in charge of me," he said. "All I can do is focus on me and let it all play out. If it happens, that's awesome. But if it's something that happens later on down the road, that's fine, too. My goal is just to get better."
Former Longhorns pitching coach Frank Anderson, now the head coach at
Oklahoma State, has seen Street get better over the years. He was Street's first college pitching coach at Texas and changed the pitcher's delivery to create more movement. Street had a good fastball, Anderson said, but his over-the-top motion was not as effective on the college level as it was on the high school level.
"We changed his mechanics up about 30 games into the season his freshman year," Anderson said. "He had no saves at the time and ends up with 14 saves and he saves every game at the World Series. I think that says a lot about him and what he is made of. He has no fear and that's big in this game."
Street is currently working on a changeup and improving his command. He believes he can get batters out, but two pitches might not always be enough.
James has never been surprised by his son's work ethic and he's not surprised now. A third pitch only makes sense.
"I think no matter where you are drafted, you have still have to work hard and make it," James said. "Putting yourself in a position to be drafted high happens because of God-given ability and work ethic, but once you get drafted, it's just beginning."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.