By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (August 4, 2017) — Tarleton State picked up a significant Division I transfer and his younger brother Thursday, when they announced they would play together at their father’s alma mater.
Michael Cantu played in 140 games at the University of Texas this past spring and is transferring to join his little brother, Marcus Cantu, at Tarleton, where their father, Mike Cantu, graduated in 1991 and was inducted into the athletics hall of fame in 2000.
Tarleton head coach Bryan Conger retweeted the announcement made on Twitter Thursday by Marcus Cantu, who screen shot his verbiage and included other photos. Here is the Tweet, a closer look at his complete message and a glimpse of his dad’s Hall of Fame listing from TarletonSports.com that Marcus also included:
It wasn’t a decision the Cantu brothers waited until August to make. Conger said he’s known this was coming for “a while now,” but everyone involved agreed to keep quiet until Michael was fully prepared for news of his transfer to spread in Austin.
Finally able to discuss Michael and Marcus being Texans made for a jovial Tarleton head coach Bryan Conger as he spoke to The Flash Today Thursday evening.
“The first thing about the Cantu bothers is they come from just an awesome family. Their mom and dad went to school here, and of course their dad played baseball and is in our hall of fame,” Conger said. “For years, they’ve listened to their parents tell stories about Tarleton, and I think we could see when Marcus came on his official visit and Michael came with him, how neat it was for them to be able to put a scene with those stories. It was obvious the excitement in their eyes when they were here, and that (Marcus’) visit was a very special time the whole family.
“Michael is just an unbelievable human being. You say that about some folks, but I’m telling you, when you meet him and spend some time with him you’re just blown away how strong he is in his faith and how awesome he is as a person,” Conger added. “I think a big reason Michael is coming here is because he wants to help his brother adjust to college baseball. That’s just the type of person he is.”
The brothers did not play together at Corpus Christi Moody, but they each led the 5A high school to the UIL State Tournament, Michael in 2013 and Marcus in 2017.
Michael Cantu started 33 games behind the plate and played in 48 this past spring at Texas, hitting .222 with six home runs and 17 RBI. He hit .232 with seven homers and 45 RBI in his career at Texas, where he made the All-Big 12 Freshman Team in 2015. He excels in the classroom as a sports management major, earning Academic All-Big 12 first team honors the past two seasons.
Michael Cantu has been drafted, with the Chicago Cubs taking him in the 30th round in 2014, but stayed in school. Perfect Game lists him as a 2014 All-America third-team selection and a Texas – All-Region first-team pick. He was previously a Perfect Game All-America second-team honoree in 2013 after earning honorable-mention notoriety in 2012.
Marcus Cantu is a pitcher and first-baseman who Conger says has good tools.
“He throws a heavy sinking fast ball that is effective and really has some good tools to work with,” said Conger. “I think he sees our reputation for developing pitchers and wants to be a part of that, and I believe he has a lot of potential there.”
The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported the brothers’ plans on the newspaper’s website Thursday. The report says Marcus Cantu was a first-team All-South Texas selection this spring, and a first-team pitcher on the 30-5A South Zone All-District Team.
“He is a good first baseman, too, and I warned him we have two big ole donkeys back at first base,” Conger said. “He said, ‘Coach, I just want to help the team win,’ and I don’t think a team could ever have to many players with that mindset.”
Conger makes it a practice to allow multiple position players a shot at both, even if he has a good idea where they will end up.
“Those things always work themselves out in the end,” he said. “The guys eventually figure out the best spot for them and how they can best fill a role on the team.”
For the Cantus that team is Tarleton.
“I think it speaks volumes about Tarleton that a man and his wife went to school here and now 26 years later, their memories are so favorable and so strong their kids have heard the stories and want to be here, too. That’s something special.”