Fall Report: TCU
Back in January, as TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle looked ahead to the 2015 season, he recognized that his program was headed for a serious makeover after the spring ended. “Our window is closing. We’ve got a massive amount of turnover after this year,” Schlossnagle said in January.
And he was right: a window closed for TCU after its 2015 College World Series run, as the core of two CWS teams and three super regional clubs departed. Preston Morrison, Trey Teakell, Riley Ferrell, Cody Jones, Derek Odell, Keaton Jones and several other mainstays are all gone.
But no sooner did that window close than another one opened. The fact is, TCU has a chance to be very, very good once again in 2016, with a team that leans heavily on talented freshmen and sophomores instead of the juniors and seniors who led the way over the last two years.
“The underlying story of our team and our program is the freshman and sophomore class,” Schlossnagle said this week. “We have a chance to have a two- or three-year run here, if we can surround them with enough pitching, of having maybe the most talented position players we’ve ever had on one team, with basically five guys who will be really fun to watch together.”
The first two players in that quintet are sophomores Connor Wanhanen and Evan Skoug, who were key players on an Omaha team as freshmen last year. Wanhanen, the reigning Big 12 freshman of the year, proved to be an advanced hitter with an innate ability to make consistent contact, helping him hit .329 last year. But he also produced just eight extra-base hits in 216 at-bats; expect plenty more doubles and a handful of homers this year. Wanhanen also figures to see more time at first base than in left field, where he played last year, in order to make room for talented newcomers in the crowded outfield mix. Skoug earned freshman All-America honors by starting all 66 games and spending the entire season as a cleanup-hitting catcher. He hit .285 with a team-best seven homers and 46 RBIs, and he will again serve as the most dangerous bat in the heart of the order.
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