Updated: Dec 28, 2019
We're taking a look back and a look ahead at college baseball teams from around the country. Next up are the TCU Horned Frogs!
With five trips to the College World Series this decade, TCU has become one of the dominant forces in college baseball. After missing a Regional in 2018, TCU entered 2019 with a return trip to the NCAA Tournament on their minds.
A Look Back at 2019
2019 was a season marked by big wins and tough losses for the Horned Frogs. Wins over Virginia and Vanderbilt at the MLB4 Tournament and a series win over Texas in their first Big XII series of the year suggested a good year for TCU. However, a late season sweep at the hands of Baylor put TCU behind the 8-ball when it came to returning to a Regional.
Entering the Big XII Tournament, TCU was in need of some late-season marquee wins. Wins over Oklahoma, Baylor, and Oklahoma State on a run to the Big XII Championship game earned TCU one of the last spots in a Regional. The Horned Frogs earned the right to travel to Fayetteville where #5 Arkansas was hosting.
While in Fayetteville, TCU scored wins over Cal and Central Connecticut State en route to the Regional Final where the Horned Frogs ultimately lost to the Razorbacks. While finishing the year 34-28 (11-13) did not quite reach the standard TCU has set for themselves in recent years, 2019 marked a distinct improvement from 2018.
The 2019 TCU team was loaded with talent as evidenced by their nine selections in the 2019 MLB Draft (a program record). LHP Nick Lodolo highlighted the group for the Horned Frogs as the 7th overall pick and highest pick in program history. LHP Brandon Williamson (2nd round), OF Johnny Rizer (7th round), and INF Jake Guenther (7th round) were also selected within the first ten rounds of the draft.
A Look Ahead at 2020
The departure of so much talent from the 2019 team leaves some holes in the 2020 TCU roster. Fortunately for the Horned Frogs, they have the fourth best recruiting class in the country coming to Fort Worth, including five pitchers. (See the top ten classes here)
The production of the pitching staff will go a long way in determining the success of the 2020 team. Only RHP Charles King returns from the 2019 rotation. He pitched 85.2 innings to the tune of a 3.36 ERA and may be the Friday starter for the Horned Frogs in 2020. RHP Marcelo Perez may move from the bullpen to a starting role after holding a 4.30 ERA on 23.0 IP in 2019.
The biggest wildcards for TCU in 2020 will be LHP Russell Smith and RHP Caleb Sloan, who will both returning from Tommy John surgery. Smith threw 37.2 innings with a 3.35 ERA in 2018 before being injured in the fall, while Sloan threw 31.1 innings in relief with a 4.60 ERA in 2018. Both are ahead of schedule for their recoveries and on track to return for the 2020 season when they could be key contributors.
Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle will not have to worry about the other half of the battery as the Horned Frogs return C Zach Humphreys who elected not to move on to professional baseball after being selected in the 26th round.
TCU has a challenging schedule lined up for 2020 including non-conference series vs. Kentucky, at Minnesota, and vs. Cal to start the season. The Horned Frogs will travel to Los Angeles for the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic where they face off against USC, UCLA, and Vanderbilt. (Check out a full list of 2020 College Baseball Tournaments here)
TCU will also play series vs. Maryland and at Stetson along with their eight series of Big XII play.
John’s (@johnny_omaha_) 2020 Prediction: TCU will make a Regional in 2020.
TCU is an extremely challenging team to predict. On one hand, there are too many question marks in their starting pitching rotation. Losing an ace like Lodolo can be difficult to recover from. On the other hand, Smith and Sloan are coming back from Tommy John and a host of talented arms in the recruiting class could immediately contribute. I see TCU as a high risk, high ceiling team. I think they’ll be able to piece together enough of a rotation to make a Regional. If they can find two consistent starters, they may make a run in the postseason.
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