The Texas Tech baseball program had a bit of a facelift in the offseason and will be sporting some shiny new features in 2016.
The most obvious to observers would likely be the $1 million worth of additions to Dan Law Field, but also 15 new faces who have joined the team.
As a part of the Fearless Champions Campaign the athletic department has been able to raise the funds for a new FieldTurf playing surface, replacing the one installed in 2007. The Red Raiders had their first practice of the season on Thursday and he said that the new field seems to be a hit all around.
“Oh it’s been great,” he said. “We have been on it one day but we have all kinds of compliments for the last month on how it looks and we are really pleased with the way it came out and the way it looks and the guys seemed to be pleased with the way it is playing also.”
Tadlock mentioned that you wouldn’t believe how many options there were when picking a new turf, but as a group they were able to pick one that turned out great.
Bigger, Better Video Board
Also apart of the Fearless Champions Campaign, Dan Law Field is getting upgraded with a 48-by-22 feet video board, which is double the size of the current. This is the video board that was in Jones AT&T stadium prior to the addition of the jumbotron.
As if Dan Law Field wasn’t already electric, this should add some excitement for the fans. Tadlock admitted that his favorite video board feature to play with his kids is choosing the correct helmet that has something hiding under it once they are shuffled.
“Well hopefully it adds to the excitement, entertainment and atmosphere of the ballpark,” Tadlock said. “Hopefully we will keep the fans engaged ourselves with we way we played but there is dead time in baseball…We are doing our best to keep the fans as engaged as possible and of course with our fans they do as good of a job at that as anyone in the country so it will make it that much easier.”
New Faces – Transfers
Tadlock and company has enjoyed recent success with junior college players transitioning into the program including pitchers Jonny Drozd, Cameron Smith, Chris Sadberry. The Red Raiders are looking to draw from the JUCO once again.
First, Hayden Howard (8-3, ERA: 1.69) a lefty from Seward Community College is someone that reminds Tadlock of the before mentioned hurlers. He expects Howard to not require the usual transition time there is with most junior college guys and is someone they feel is ready to come in right away and pitch.
Another is Chandler Eden, a right-handed pitcher from Yavapai College who picked the Red Raiders over Cal Fullerton and Arizona. Eden was teammates with Ryan Mosley in the Cape Cod league and has engaged in some friendly competition with him since arriving at Tech. Eden accounted for six wins, a 1.83 ERA, and 119 strikeouts his senior year at Yuba City (Calif.) High School.
“Chandler is definitely a guy with fastball velocity and his breaking ball will stand out to you. Talking about big league stuff, a guy that can get up to 97 or 98 mph on the mound, electric arm,” Tadlock said.
Other transfers in the mix for a spot in the rotation include right-handers Robert Duggar from Cisco Junior College, Tanner Buxton from Northeast Junior College. With one day of practice underway Tadlock said those spots are fair game right now.
“At this point Ryan Moseley is definitely in those top three guys and there is going to be four or five other guys that compete for those spots,” he said. “Talking about freshman, you could put all those freshman in that equation, Ty Damron, Hayden Howard. But I’m thinking it’s about four or five guys competing for those top three or four spots in the rotation.”
New Faces- Freshman
Speaking of the freshman, Texas Tech added 11 of them to the roster and many of them we were able to see in the Red and Black Series this fall. As for Tadlock, he said the freshmen are even at this point, having only one practice under their belts and but that was also the case this fall..
“I would say that none stood out over the other but they all looked like guys ready to jump in and help our team do what we want to do right away,” he said.
The pitching staff added six freshman, and as mentioned above all have the potential to gain a spot in the rotation or add to the bullpen. The lefties include Steven Gingery from Huntington Beach, California and Erikson Lanning from Woodstock, Georgia. Right handers are Ty Harpenau from Fort Smith, Arkansas, Davis Martin from San Angelo and Ryan Shetter from Friendswood.
As for the infield, Trey Ochoa, who will likely be the third baseman, stood out to Tadlock during the fall. Tadlock added he would like to find somewhere for him in the lineup due to his ability to get on base. They could play him at any infield position and anywhere in the order because his ability to hit the ball.
Another freshman to get familiar with is Cody Farhat (.395 avg.) an outfielder from Plano who was ranked No. 27 for his position and made second team All-State according to ETVarsity.
There always seems to be a competition behind the plate at Texas Tech, and Tadlock said this one is loaded with talent. Those in contention include freshmen Matt Bernstein from Flower Mound and Braden Williams from Irving who are battling it out with senior returner Tyler Floyd and junior transfer Kholeton Sanchez, who sat out last season.
“We return Tyler Floyd, Kholeton Sanchez who probably would have been our starter last year. One of the best guys I’ve seen at one point in his career and then you have two freshmen. They both bring a different element one can really catch and throw and the other is probably the best hitter of the four, so sounds like fun doesn’t it,” he said.
You can catch all of the new additions on opening day, which is now less than a month away with a four-day series against Milwaukee beginning Feb. 19 at Dan Law Field.