Fall Report: Texas TechFall Report
Tim Tadlock is good with hunches.
As fall workouts finished up last year, I spoke with Tadlock about his 2018 Texas Tech team. Tadlock typically downplays his teams. After all, he doesn’t want his team to get a false sense of who they are based solely on what happens in the fall.
But he couldn’t contain his excitement. He was giddy about the team he had and thought the Red Raiders were destined for greatness unless injuries or other setbacks got in the way.
A few months later, Tech had that one setback they didn’t want — All-American lefthander Steven Gingery went down with a season-ending injury. But that didn’t deter them from their goal. The Red Raiders put together a strong spring, won the Lubbock Regional and knocked off Duke in the super regional round to make the third College World Series appearance in the Tadlock era.
His hunch proved right yet again. Last year’s Red Raiders club was destined to do something special.
So, what’s his feeling on the 2019 club as fall workouts conclude?
“I think the pieces are there for us to be a special club again, but it’s really about learning and seeing when and where that learning process shows up,” he said. “We just need to go in and get our work in each day and just make our guys understand they’re not going to be where they want to be at the end of the season on the first day of the season. We just need to put the work in.
“For the most part this fall, I thought we had a pretty good intent in practice,” he continued. “We definitely had some moments that included some lulls, and not exactly the intent you want to see. But for the most part, it was good. We’ve got some really good arms and we’ve got some impressive athleticism from an offensive standpoint. We have a chance to be very explosive offensively.”
The Red Raiders are setup well from an offensive standpoint. Third baseman Josh Jung is one of the nation’s premier players and prospects, and is back in the mix. Meanwhile, Brian Klein provides stability up the middle and Gabe Holt is an electric hitter who was a terror for opposing pitchers last season. Tech also has gotten significant contributions from Cody Masters this fall.
On the mound, Caleb Kilian and John McMillon continue to look like sure-fire starters in the weekend rotation, while Jake McDonald and others are making a push to join the duo.
“We really want to have four starters that go out there and are ready to hand the ball off after six innings. That’s the goal,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of power arms, that’s for sure. We have a lot of guys who throw hard, but there are some pitchability guys in there, too. They’ve all enjoyed turning off the radar gun this fall and making it about executing pitches.”
SIZING UP THE ROTATION
This is one of the biggest question marks for the Red Raiders as spring approaches. It’s not necessarily because the Raiders don’t have options. They do. But after losing Davis Martin and others from last year’s pitching staff, there’s some uncertainty outside of righthander Caleb Kilian.
Kilian was impressive last season and will be the staff ace in 2019. He’ll get up to 93-94 with his fastball, and when he’s on, the 12-6 curveball is terrific. Tadlock said Kilian was just OK this fall, but he’ll be just fine once spring rolls around.
So, how do the Red Raiders size up the rest of the rotation? Good question.
Hard-throwing righthander John McMillon could be one of those starters. McMillon is filthy when he’s on, but also had an ERA north of four last season and struggled at times. The Red Raiders would like to get more consistency out of McMillon, who can get up to 95-97 with his fastball, while the slider can be a promising pitch as well.