Locals In MLB: Former Cougar Justin Sterner Makes Most Of MLB Debut

Jun 11, 2024, 9:35 AM

justin sterner rays...

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 31: Justin Sterner #65 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Baltimore Orioles during the eighth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 31, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. Justin Sterner would make his major league debut during the game. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Former BYU Cougar Justin Sterner didn’t have much time to prepare when the rookie pitcher learned he was needed in the big league bullpen. Less than a day after getting news of his first promotion to the sport’s highest level, Sterner was on the mound, facing one of the game’s hottest lineups.

Sterner debuted for the Tampa Bay Rays against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, May 31.

“It was a special experience,” Sterner told the press following his debut. “Getting to pitch on a Friday night, in this stadium (Camden Yards) with the fans. I’m still trying to reflect on it a little bit: just a privilege and a blessing. I’m grateful I had the opportunity.

RELATED: After Continuing Family Legacy At BYU, Justin Sterner Has Eyes On MLB

The 6’1 lefty needed 28 pitches to retire six Orioles batters, working around two walks, one intentional, and a pair of base hits. Nineteen of his 28 pitches were strikes. Sterner gave himself a chance to reflect in the dugout after his debut.

“A couple of guys said this is the only time you get to debut. So take it all in; don’t regret anything on this day.”

The former BYU standout followed his debut by allowing three hits in two innings against the Miami Marlins before being optioned back to Triple-A Durham.

About Justin Sterner

Sterner built his work ethic by playing for a nationally-ranked Dana Hills High School program.

The Dolphins won their league in 2014 before rising to ninth nationally during Sterner’s junior season (2015). He had a 1.12 ERA as a senior.

Before joining the Cougars, Sterner served a two-year mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Apia, Samoa.

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After three seasons at BYU, Sterner went undrafted in the abbreviated, five-round 2020 MLB Player Draft before inking a free-agent contract with the Miami Marlins on August 3, 2020. Less than a year later, the Marlins dealt Sterner to the Rays organization.

Sterner’s father, Jeff, played baseball at BYU as a walk-on, while his mother, Carol, played soccer.

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Brian Preece is a KSLsports.com insider covering the Utah State Aggies, Locals in MLB, and Salt Lake Bees. Follow Brian’s Bees, Beehive baseball, and Aggie athletics coverage here.

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Locals In MLB: Former Cougar Justin Sterner Makes Most Of MLB Debut