Jeff Austin, who was the 1998 National Collegiate Player of the Year during a storied career at Stanford, returns for his second on the staff of his alma mater in 2009. Once again, the former Major League hurler will be charged with tutoring the Cardinal pitchers.
"Having Jeff back at Stanford has been tremendous for both parties," said Cardinal head coach Mark Marquess. "He is an outstanding coach, he has a great personality, and has a great appreciation for both Stanford and college baseball. Our pitchers love working with him - he has instant credibility, having pitched at both the college and professional levels."
Austin was instrumental in the development of a Stanford pitching staff that ranked third in the Pac-10 with a 4.45 ERA in 2008. Two of his charges were named first-team All-Pac-10 (Erik Davis and Drew Storen) and two earned honorable mention all-conference accolades (Jeremy Bleich, Jeffrey Inman and Austin Yount), while Storen was tabbed a freshman All-American. Bleich, Davis and Yount were all selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, topped by Bleich's selection during the Compensation A round.
Despite losing Bleich for much of conference play due to injury, and through the adjustment of Storen from a high school starter into a collegiate closer, Austin guided a staff that posted the Pac-10's second-best ERA during conference play at 4.47. Stanford pitchers were at their best when it mattered most, with a 3.95 ERA during 11 postseason contests.
"Jeff had a tremendous impact on our pitching staff last year," commented Marquess. "We don't go anywhere without the pitching, and we went to the College World Series; Jeff deserves a lot of credit for that. There were a lot of obstacles in the way to be successful, and Jeff had a lot to do with our guys overcoming that and having career years."
Prior to returning to The Farm in 2008, Austin had previously donned the Stanford uniform as a player from 1996-98 during a fantastic three-year collegiate career that was capped when he was named the National Collegiate Player of the Year by Baseball America and a first-team All-American in 1998. He was also the Pac-10 Southern Division Pitcher of the Year that same season, as well as a first-team All-Pac-10 Southern Division pick and a nominee for both the Golden Spikes and Rotary Smith awards presented annually to the top player in collegiate baseball.
Austin was 12-4 with a 3.11 ERA during his banner 1998 junior campaign, striking out 136 batters (tied for seventh on Stanford's all-time single-season list) in 133.0 innings of work. He appeared as a starter in all 18 of his games and completed eight.
Austin also had solid freshman and sophomore seasons on The Farm in 1996 and 1997.
He began his Stanford career by going 6-4 with a 3.81 ERA and one save in his 1996 rookie collegiate season to earn Freshman All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball. He pitched in 16 contests (15 starts) and recorded one complete game, while striking out 88 batters in 89.2 frames.
"It is very special for me to be back at Stanford," Austin said. "Stanford is near and dear to my heart. It is a pleasure and an honor to be associated with Stanford in any way, and it has been a dream come true to wear the uniform again."
Austin was used as both a reliever and starter during his sophomore season in 1997, when he posted a 5-2 record and a 4.14 ERA with four saves. Austin made starts in eight of his 25 appearances and struck out 93 batters in 87.0 innings.
He finished his Stanford career with a 23-10 all-time record, a 3.60 ERA and five saves. Austin's 317 career strikeouts in 309.2 innings pitched still ranks sixth all-time on The Farm.
Austin was the fourth overall selection by the Kansas City Royals in the first round of the 1998 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He was called up to the big leagues by Kansas City for the first time on June 26, 2001, and pitched in the majors for portions of the next three seasons. He also pitched for the Royals in 2002 before being traded to Cincinnati prior to the 2003 campaign. Austin won his first MLB game for the Reds and posted a 2-3 record with an 8.58 ERA before shoulder surgery ended his 2003 season.
Austin never made it back to the big leagues, finishing his MLB career with a 2-3 record, 6.75 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 65.1 innings over 38 games (seven starts). He pitched in the minors and independent baseball in 2004 and 2005 before retiring from the sport on July 4, 2005.
Austin has a Bachelor's degree in English from Stanford. He and his wife, Courtney, live in Redwood City.