BYU baseball vs. Gonzaga 07

Brigham Young University pitcher Justin Sterner (18) delivers a pitch during a game between the Brigham Young University Cougars and the Gonzaga University Bulldogs held Saturday, March 16, 2019, at Miller Park in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

This is an interesting time to be joining the Miami Marlins baseball team but that is where BYU baseball pitcher Justin Sterner is headed.

The Cougars announced Friday that Sterner signed a free agent deal with the Miami Marlins on Thursday.

Sterner, a right-hander out of Laguna Niguel, California, ranks fourth all-time at BYU with a career earned run average of 2.86, the best ERA posted by a Cougar in since a 2.60 ERA by Mike Tucker from 1976-78. Sterner also ranks ninth in the BYU career record books with a 9.21 strikeout per nine innings average and a 1.31 WHIP.

“I couldn’t be happier that Justin has this opportunity,” BYU head coach Mike Littlewood said in the press release announcing the signing. “He’s been a great leader for us the past few years and the anchor of our staff. He’s done nothing but get better and better every day and I know he’ll be great at the next level.”

In his recently completed shortened junior year this past spring, Sterner posted a 2.53 ERA in four starts with 24 strikeouts. In the Cougars’ WCC championship campaign in 2019, Sterner led the team in wins and strikeouts, going 8-3 with 71 strikeouts and a 2.92 ERA.

Sterner is the second Cougar to sign a free agent deal, joining fellow pitcher Jarod Lessar who signed with the New York Yankees in June.

Miami has been hit with the biggest outbreak of COVID-19 in professional baseball as 18 players and two staffers have tested positive for the contagious disease.

Due to the health concerns, the Marlins haven’t taken the field since Sunday. Reports on Friday indicated that the infected members of the team were bused from Philadelphia back to Miami and were going to be quarantined in a single location to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

All Miami games have been postponed at least through Aug. 2 with the possibility of the re-shuffled Marlins roster (which might include Sterner) playing the Phillies on Tuesday.

In a season shortened and thoroughly disrupted by the global pandemic, Sterner might get opportunities he wouldn’t otherwise get.

According to the official BYU Cougar baseball webpage, 24 former Cougar baseball players have made it to the major leagues including Los Angeles Angels pitcher Taylor Cole.

The most famous former BYU stars were Jack Morris, Cory Snyder and Vance Law.

The website also notes that eight other big league players had ties to the Cougars even though they weren’t officially baseball alumni, a list that includes Dale Murphy and Danny Ainge.

Daily Herald sports reporter Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!