What can we expect from TCU Baseball’s 2021?
Many frog fans have been hoping for the baseball diamond, where the program returns literally all key players from a season ago and adds a number of talented true freshmen and transitions. But there are questions; as veteran as this roster looks on paper, it lacks experience when it comes to Big 12 Baseball, and it is most obvious when it comes to starting pitchers.
Ahead of the opening day, Jim Schlossnagle pontified that veterans Russell Smith and Johnny Ray, combined with sophomore Austin Krob, were ready to make up for the weekend rotation. Of those three, only Smith has played in a Big 12 ballgame, making this a talented – but inexperienced – unit. They all came to TCU via different routes, but each has the opportunity to make a name for themselves in a crowded clubhouse.
The only “homemade” talent for the trio, Smith came to TCU with the help of nearby Midlothian, a 6’9 “behemoth who had posted a 0.00-ERA with 100 strikes against just eight hits in the senior season of high school. An American and top 50 player in the state, Smith was as highly touted as all recruits in the class, but after playing 12 appearances as a true novice, he missed the entire 2019 season due to injury. He looked good in four games in the shortened 2020 campaign, and went 2-0 on 21 rounds with 2.57 ERA and 27 strikes (with only two rounds). Had he stayed healthy, we might have talked about Smith as the next big TCU jug. As things currently stand, he will return to the mound with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove, after coming to a 27-strike, twice performance in 21 innings last year. The talent has not gone, and free time has made it possible for him to become stronger, correct the mechanics and get his mind straightened. He could be founded for a breakout campaign in 2021.
Next to Smith comes Johnny Ray, a first-round talent who certainly looks like an elite collegiate pitcher with a professional future. Ray got off to a strong start in 2020, when he topped top five-pick Max Meyer in Minnesota with a two-hit, complete game stop by Gophers – a performance that put him on the college baseball national radar. He ended the short season 1-1 in four appearances with a 2.53 ERA, and struck out 21 strokes in 21.1 innings. His fastball can ride up to 97 km / h, and he has an ugly cutter; If he is healthy and throws strikes, he is as good as any arm you will see at the conference.
The wildcard is Austin Krob, a 6’3 “left from Lisbon, Iowa, who is classified as second only after spending a season at Kirkwood Community College and a few months in Fort Worth last year. He throws a fastball in the mid-90s He’s a big time prospect, and Schlossnagle referred to him as potentially the best prospect on the team when it comes to pro ball last week. If Krob is that program, he thinks. is, he has the kind of elite talent that lifts the staff from very very good to national championship quality.Although he is only very good, there is a killer line this weekend that is going to make things very tough for conflicting offenses.
There is a long list of quality candidates for starting roles for weeknight, and if the story is any indication, we can see a handful of boys toe the rubber on Tuesday night during the season.
The leading accusation will be super senior Charles King who returned for a trip around the diamond, and by whom, Schloss said he had thrown better than two of the three likely weekend starters early in the spring ball. The problem with King, however, is that he is just too versatile; “We want to be able to put the guys in the best position to help the team,” said Schlosnagle. “Trey Teakell could have been a starting pitcher: I called him our pitcher all the time because he could close a game start a game. – if we can stay healthy, we actually have two boys like that, King and Haylen Green. Having two boys in their fifth year participating in the College World Series, who are extreme strikers – you’m in luck. “Schlossnagle also mentioned that they tried to develop and extend eight starters this spring, the boss among them once closer to Marcelo Perez. As a true first-year student, Perez was electric, striking out 28 strokes in 23 laps, but exposed to wildness and large laps (eight laps and 11 earned runs). He certainly has the guts to stay in a backend role, but the long-term vision has always been for him to start, and he gets that opportunity in 2021. We will talk more about him in bullpen preview down the line.
Other candidates include Jacob Meador, another highly-regarded prospect who had a promising debut in 2020, John Kodros – a former LSU Tiger with excellent things – juco-transfer Drew Hill who got some run in 2020, and Garrett Wright, a true freshman hero loaded with talent, and Riley Cornelio, who had a 0.87 ERA in three starts as a freshman last spring.
There will certainly be opportunities for guys who can strike, but the level of competition is as high as ever in the clubhouse Fort Worth. It will be up to the health as much as anything else, but also to the players to live up to their significant billing. No matter what happens, the guys who toe the fresh rubber should be a talented bunch.