Opinion: Plenty of reasons to be excited about 2012 TCU baseball

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    Although baseball season is months away and many familiar faces have left the program, there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about the 2012 TCU baseball team.

    More than half of the 2012 team will be comprised of new faces; 18 of the 25 players will be new to the TCU program.

    With phenom Matt Purke and ace Kyle Winkler signing deals with the Washington Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks, respectively, and Steven Maxwell graduating, Coach Jim

    Schlossnagle has some work to do replacing his pitching rotation.

    It will be largely up to sophomores Andrew Mitchell and Stefan Crichton to step up and anchor the Frogs’ pitching staff. They did well in their appearances in the 2011 season, combining for a 12-4 record and 115 strikeouts.

    The pitching staff has more talent as well with pitcher Kaleb Merck returning. He missed last season with Tommy John surgery and was medically red-shirted. The right-handed junior excelled in 2010, showing a 1.47 ERA and striking out 45 batters in 22 appearances.

    Additionally, new Horned Frog Jerrick Suiter will add another arm to the TCU pitching staff. At 6 feet 4 inches, Suiter can throw up to 94 mph. As a high school senior, Suiter struck out 69 batters in 57 1/3 innings and held a 2.93 ERA. With his versatility, it is possible that the Frogs could make Suiter a two-way player, letting him pitch and also play in the field. Suiter can play in the outfield or behind the plate as a catcher. He’s not too shabby at the plate either, as he hit .461 with 27 runs batted in during his final year in high school.

    Also on offense, incoming freshman Kevin Cron joins the team and is expected to be a big-time hitter.

    His brother, former Mountain West Conference Player of the Year C.J. Cron, played for the Utah Utes and was a first round pick in June’s MLB Draft. 

    If Kevin Cron’s high school record shows anything, it’s that baseball talent runs in the family.
    Cron is Arizona’s all-time leader in home runs for a high school player, both in a career and in a season. He was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the third round of the draft. Instead of signing with the team, he chose to attend TCU.

    With Cron at bat, TCU has options when it comes to the batting lineup. Outfielder Jason Coats returned to TCU despite being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, and Brance Rivera is returning for another year.

    Along with returning third baseman Jantzen Witte and catcher Josh Elander, the Frogs could cause nightmares for opposing pitchers. 

    There are plenty of new faces when TCU begins baseball this spring, but with those new faces come talent and great potential. There’s no doubt that the Horned Frogs will be in contention for another Mountain West Conference title.

    With incoming talent and energized new players, there’s plenty of hope to be had for the 2012 TCU baseball team.