2023 Team Preview: Klein Oak Panthers

Brandon Gowins
Texas Scouting Director

The 2023 high school baseball season is underway with practice having started and as usual, excitement abounds throughout the state. Players and coaches have been working in preparation for the upcoming season and, as is the case each year, there are some very talented players and teams across Texas

Teams across the state have goals and aspirations to finish their seasons in the Austin at the State Tournament, but there is plenty of work to be done before that becomes reality. We hope to familiarize our readers with many of the teams across the state as we preview individual teams across Texas. We will take you right up to first pitch this season with these team previews and eventually releasing our preseason Top 30 teams in the state.

Please keep checking back throughout the season as we will be your one-stop shop for everything related to high school baseball across the state. Each week we will be releasing our players of the week and updating the Top 30 teams in the state.

*Please note that all information is based on team preview questionnaires that were sent out and returned by the participating high school coaches.

High School Name: Klein Oak

Coach’s Name: Bo Hernandez

Classification6A (District 15)

No. of Returning Positional Starters: 5

No. of Returning Pitchers3

Team Strengths: Strong on both sides of the ball. Team speed


Top Returning Players:

2023 UTL/RHP Owen Smith (McClennan CC)

2023 INF/RHP Bret Deegan (Amarillo College)

2024 OF/RHP Matthew Scott II (University of Oklahoma)

2024 SS/RHP Austin Hardy


Top 2023 Prospects:

2023 UTL/RHP Owen Smith (McClennan CC)

2023 INF/RHP Bret Deegan (Amarillo College)

2023 OF/RHP Caeleb Steffen


Top 2024 Prospects:

2024 OF/RHP Matthew Scott II (University of Oklahoma)

2024 SS/RHP Austin Hardy

2024 C Tanner Cooper

2024 OF/LHP Makoy Stone

2024 INF EJ Garcia

2024 INF/C Gage Kooyers


Top 2025 & 2026 Prospects

2025 SS Alex Rodriguez

2026 INF/C/RHP Ben Millhouse

2026 OF/RHP Jaden Strickland

2026 CJ Smith LHP/OF

2026 LHP/OF Jacob George


Team Outlook:

Klein Oak comes into the '23 season with a talented group of returners from last years team that went 18-12 and made it to the area round of playoffs.  They have some arms returning and a couple of big bats that make the Panthers a dangerous team in 2023.

Returning is last years newcomer of the year in district Owen Smith (McLennan), who is going to be a force at the plate and on the mound. Joining him in the lineup is super talented Jr. OF Matthew Scott. The OU commit has some of the best raw power in the class and above avg tools across the board.  Joining them in the lineup is Bret Deegan, who brought home 2nd team all district honors as a Jr. Austin Hardy gives them consistency at the shortstop position. Also, keep an eye on Sr. Caeleb Steffen. Klein Oak is an athletic bunch from top to bottom, so they will look to put consistent pressure on the defense all spring.

On the mound, Klein Oak will look to Smith and Deegan to lead the staff. Scott can provide some innings with a good arm, as well as Hardy and Steffen. There are some talented freshman as well at Oak this year, and there is a chance a couple of them make some jumps and help the Panthers down the stretch.





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