The talent that TCU had on its pitching staff last season seems nearly unfair in hindsight.
On one team, you had guys like Alex Young (9-3, 2.22), Preston Morrison (12-3, 2.51), and Tyler Alexander (6-3, 3.07) starting games and Trey Teakell (1.35) and Riley Ferrell (2.56, 14 SV) closing them out. Needless to say, runs were tough to come by against TCU a season ago, and that was a large part of the reason why the Horned Frogs found themselves in Omaha at the end of the season.
Heading into 2016, the bad news is that every single one of those pitchers mentioned is off in pro baseball now, leaving TCU with a lot of rebuilding to do on the pitching staff.
With that being said, the Frogsâ€™ pitchers will still be a lot of fun to follow and watch in the coming season.
For one, their weekend rotation will be led by Mitchell Traver, who in many ways actually had the best numbers on the staff last year. He went 9-2 with a 1.89 ERA. In 76.1 innings, he struck out 77 and opposing batters hit just .184 against him. He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 28th round after last season, but instead of signing, he is back as a cornerstone to build the rest of the staff around.
Another guy to watch is freshman Luken Baker. The Gatorade National Player of the Year, Baker was a hot commodity in draft circles coming out of his senior season of high school, but because of his firm commitment to TCU, teams backed off of him. Had it not been for that, he would have been drafted much higher than the 37th round, when he was selected by his hometown Houston Astros.Â He will almost certainly slot into the weekend rotation from day one, and it would be no surprise if he quickly became the programâ€™s next rising star.
Then there is a quartet of experienced hurlers in Preston Guillory (0.34), Ryan Burnett (2.19), Brian Trieglaff (3.18), and Brian Howard (3.52). All of them, at the very least, will be nice pieces in the bullpen, and they also might factor into the race for the final weekend rotation spot or the midweek starter role.
Also worth watching is lefty Rex Hill, a bounce back from Texas A&M. He was an all-conference pitcher last year at San Jacinto College before joining the Horned Frogs.
With the turnover, it would be unreasonable to expect the TCU pitching staff to replicate the dominance they showed a year ago, but we shouldnâ€™t be so quick to expect a huge drop off. Theyâ€™re is still a ton of talent on this staff, and there is certainly more where that came from.