Late last week, two of the most successful college baseball programs in the state of Texas underwent big personnel changes. This time of year, that’s not too uncommon.
Players in the newest recruiting class sign with MLB teams, players that were thought to be signing with MLB teams decide to come to school, drafted players on the current roster sign contracts or choose to return, players transfer out, players transfer in, and some players simply step away from the game for one reason or another.
What’s uncommon about this situation is that this personnel change for the two programs involved the same player and this one change could be program-altering for both.
Boomer White, TCU’s top hitter in 2013 and 2014 and the MVP of the 2014 Fort Worth regional, has announced that he is transferring to Texas A&M.
At this point, we’re short on details, but White has said that the decision was for personal reasons. It’s tough to fault a player for transferring somewhere he thinks he will be happier, but this particular decision seemed to catch everyone by surprise. It’s not every day that leading hitters on a team that just got back from the College World Series up and decide to transfer somewhere else.
White’s departure will have a big impact on the Horned Frogs’ lineup in 2015. They already knew they were going to be replacing the likes of Dylan Fitzgerald, Kevin Cron, Jerrick Suiter, and Kyle Bacak in the lineup, but White’s return was going to mitigate the loss of production to some degree. You had to figure he was going to plug right back into the middle of the lineup and if a couple of returning players stepped into bigger roles and a couple of new faces contributed right away, the offense would bounce back.
But now, that’s not anything close to a certainty. Combined with the losses in the pitching staff, TCU is left plugging more holes coming into 2015 than they had bargained for.
On the other side of the the coin, Texas A&M has to be tickled pink that White has chosen to come to College Station. Because of transfer rules, White will not be able to take the field in 2015, but when he becomes eligible in 2016, you have to assume he will immediately be a middle-of-the-order bat for the Aggies. And that would be just what the doctor ordered for A&M.
The Aggies haven’t had too much trouble finding pitching to go around lately. They always seem to find a handful of new pitchers every year that can step into big roles immediately and even when one or two of the guys they were counting on have tough years (Parker Ray and Jason Jester in 2014, for example), someone else is always there to pick up the slack.
The offense has been a little different story. Consistency has been a real issue and over the last few years, the production has been very feast or famine. White, as a known quantity, would be a huge help. He hits for average, has a good approach at the plate, he runs pretty well, and he has more pop in his bat than he showed while playing in TCU’s cavernous Lupton Stadium.
With stalwarts like Cole Lankford, Krey Bratsen, Troy Stein, and Jace Statum leaving this year, and others such as Logan Nottebrok, Blake Allemand, Patrick McLendon, and Mitchell Nau set to leave after next season, it would behoove head coach Rob Childress to re-stock the cupboard a little bit before White is eligible. But make no mistake about it; White’s arrival for the 2016 season takes a lot of pressure off.