2 former BYU baseball players shine in Major League Baseball debuts

Pitcher Justin Sterner threw 2 scoreless innings for the Tampa Bay Rays, and infielder Daniel Schneemann hit a 2 RBI double for the Cleveland Guardians

Two former Brigham Young University baseball players have made their Major League Baseball debuts.

Justin Sterner, a 27-year-old right-handed pitcher who played for BYU from 2018 to 2020, threw two scoreless innings for the Tampa Bay Rays in their loss to the Baltimore Orioles on May 31.

Daniel Schneemann, an infielder who played at BYU from 2016 to 2018 and is also 27 years old, went 1-for-3 with a two-run double for the Cleveland Guardians in their 5-2 loss to the Washington Nationals on June 2.

Sterner and Schneemann join a third former Cougar — pitcher Michael Rucker — in the majors. Rucker pitched for BYU from 2013 to 2016 and made his MLB debut with the Chicago Cubs on July 30, 2021. He is now in his first season with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The debuts by Sterner and Schneemann mark the first time multiple former BYU players have been called up to MLB in the same season since Jaycob Brugman, Taylor Cole and Jacob Hannemann all debuted in 2017, the Deseret News reported.

Sterner’s unique journey

Sterner was undrafted out of high school and had zero offers to play in college. He served a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Apia, Samoa, then walked on to the BYU baseball team.

Sterner’s mission was discussed on the Tampa Bay television broadcast.

“I’m so glad I did it,” Sterner said of his mission.

“To this day, even if I didn’t get to this point, if someone came up to me and said, ‘Hey, those two years stopped you from getting to the big leagues,’” he said, “I would have said: ‘OK, that’s great. That’s fine with me.’ Those experiences, I’ll carry with me forever.”

Sterner’s BYU career included 27 appearances and 17 starts with an 8-3 record. The Laguna Niguel, California, native recorded a career 2.86 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 100.2 innings pitched for the Cougars, according to

Once again unselected in the 2020 MLB draft, he was nearly 24 years old when the Miami Marlins saw him pitch in a summer league game and offered him a contract. Less than a year later, he was traded to the Rays.

Since he joined Tampa Bay, Sterner has gradually climbed through the Double-A and Triple-A ranks. His three and a half seasons in the minors included a 4.14 ERA, 247 strikeouts, 14 saves and a 17-9 record in 119 appearances.

“Everybody’s got a different story, and everyone has unique journeys and long roads to get [to Major League Baseball],” Sterner told “I’d like to think I have a pretty unique one.”

He is one of three Sterner brothers to take the mound for BYU. Jack Sterner pitched for the Cougars from 2019 to 2023, while Luke Sterner just completed his sophomore season in Provo in 2024.

Members of his family — including his wife, Courtney, and 2-year-old son — attended his first MLB game in Baltimore. He is the 35th former Cougar to play in an MLB game.

“I thought Justin kept his composure really well,” Rays manager Kevin Cash told “I was glad that his family got in to see it. That’s a big moment for him. He should be really happy with himself.”

Schneemann’s story

A native of San Diego, California, Schneemann played three seasons at BYU. He posted a .288 average with 163 hits and was named the 2017 West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He was selected by Cleveland with the No. 1,003 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.

Schneemann’s wife, Allie Hancock-Schneemann, played first base for BYU’s softball team and is now back with the program as an assistant coach. In an article, she recalled meeting her husband in college and asking him what he wanted to study. He told her his plan was to play in the big leagues.

“What’s your backup plan?” she said, and he replied: “I don’t have a backup plan. I’m just going all in.”

Cleveland Guardians second baseman Daniel Schneemann fields a ground ball hit for an out by Washington Nationals' Luis García Jr. in the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, June 2, 2024, in Cleveland, Ohio. | Sue Ogrocki

It took six years and 445 minor league games, but Schneemann finally reached his goal. He started at second base and celebrated by hitting his first Major League pitch down the right field line for a two-RBI double.

Many of Schneemann’s family members attended the game, and he spent time with them on the field after the game.

“It’s definitely a day I won’t forget,” Schneemann told reporters after the game. “It’s a day I’ve been thinking about for a long time. ... If you have a goal, I think if you just work hard enough, you can achieve it.”

In 53 contests with Triple-A Columbus this season, Schneemann batted .294 with 10 home runs, 39 runs driven in and an elite .984 on-base-plus-slugging mark.

Schneemann is the 36th player in MLB history to have attended BYU.

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