Baseball Preview: TCU Lineup

TCU had an improved offense last season with a veteran laden lineup. The Horned Frogs went from hitting only 37 HR's in 2008, which was easily the lowest total in Schlossnagle's first five years at TCU, to hitting 67 HR's last year.

TCU would bunt with some of their lesser hitters but were pretty content to let the veterans swing the bats and it looks like they will have a similar approach at the plate with only one SAC bunt last weekend. The Horned Frogs didn’t run much last season and lost three of the four players with at least seven SB’s but ran wild last weekend with nine SB’s. TCU will take a patient approach at the plate and work counts to draw walks.

Infield

TCU had a very experienced infield last year with four returning starters and each of those starters was solid defensively. The Horned Frogs set school records for fielding % in 2007 and 2008 but slid back a little last year in that area while breaking in a new starter at SS. This year TCU is breaking in new starters at three positions after the graduation of SR’s at 1B, 2B and 3B.

C – SR Bryan Holaday (RH – .300/.351/.507, 10-48-2) is in his third year as a starter and is the team leader. He has been 1st or 2nd team all MWC the last two years. Holaday has good power and was 3rd on the team in HR and RBI last season and will hit 3rd. He is a very good defensive catcher and does a good job both blocking pitches (34 WP/PB) and against the running game and held runners to only 29-61 on SB attempts. Holaday went 5-12 with 1 HR and 4 RBI last weekend. He was 3-10 last year at Fullerton.

1B – SR Matt Curry (LH – .315/.421/.444, 3-31-2) came into TCU with a reputation for being a power hitter (20 HR, 90 RBI his Soph year in JC ball) and lived up to that prediction in the series at Fullerton with 2 HR and 4 RBI (5-12 in the series) but only hit one more HR the rest of the year. He will see lots of pitches and was among the team leaders in both BB’s and K’s last season. Curry has had some issues with his conditioning but lost 25 lbs in the offseason. He was the DH last season and will be playing 1B and hitting 6th. Curry went 5-10 with 1 HR and 5 RBI last weekend.

2B – JC Transfer Jerome Pena (Both) was drafted in the 40th round and is a solid defensive player who can also play SS and started there once last weekend. He has some pop in his bat (5-11 last weekend with 1 HR) for the #9 hitter in the lineup. Soph Aaron Schultz (RH – .254 in 71 AB’s) started the other game at 2B when Pena was at SS. He ended up playing CF at the end of last season due to some lineup shuffling to settle down the defense up the middle.

SS – Soph Taylor Featherston (RH – .322/.395/.461, 5-28-8) came into TCU with high expectations after being ranked among the top 30 players in Texas for the June ’08 draft. He lived up to those expectations at the plate and was 3rd on the team in H’s and R’s but struggled defensively and made 27 errors. Featherston ended up playing 2B for part of the season to make things easier for him on defense and to keep his bat in the lineup. He is predicted to contend for all MWC honors this season and went 3-8 last weekend. Featherston was 4-11 with 1 HR and 3 RBI last season at Fullerton.

3B – Redshirt FR Davy Wright (RH) is in the lineup for his glove and went 1-5 last weekend while batting 8th the first two games. Holaday played 3B on Sunday.

Outfield and DH

TCU’s OF looked like it would be a little unsettled going into the season with only one starter returning but they have been able to hit the ground running with two high impact FR stepping right into the lineup and giving the Horned Frogs an athletic OF.

LF – Soph Jason Coats (RH – .316/.393/.518, 6-32-2) stepped right into the lineup last season as a FR and was 3rd on the team in SLG %. He didn’t run much last year but stole three bases last weekend while going 4-11 and hitting 5th in all three games. Coats was 4-11 with 1 RBI last season at Fullerton.

CF – FR Kyle VonTungeln (LH) is the fastest runner on the team and was listed as one of the top 100 prospects in the draft last June in Texas. He went 3-12 and hit two 2B’s while leading off in all three games last weekend.

RF – FR Josh Elander (RH) is one of the best athletes on the team and has the potential to both hit for power (8-10 last weekend with 6 RBI) and run (4-5 SB’s last weekend) while hitting 7th. He has a good arm in RF because he is also the backup catcher and started behind the plate last Sunday.

DH – JC transfer Joe Weik (RH) is being looked at to provide power to the lineup and is hitting cleanup despite being a newcomer. He drove in 119 runs in two JC seasons. Weik was 4-10 with 5 RBI last weekend.