While the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers are fighting it out in the World Series, TCU baseball is just getting set to begin.Sophomore catcher Hunt Woodruff said the Horned Frogs are focusing on improving their fundamentals such as bunting, base running and defense at the corner infield positions during fall practices.
“Fall practice itself is actually seeing what parts of the game we need to work on, and then targeting those during the practice,” Woodruff said.
The squad features eight transfers and four true freshmen, including eight new pitchers.
Head coach Jim Schlossnagle said he expects contribution from junior pitchers Chance Corgan, Chris Johnson and Cody Dunbar as well as freshmen Brett Medlin, outfielder, and catcher Monk Kreder.
Junior pitcher Jake Arrieta said performance during fall practice is a major factor in playing time during the regular season, especially for pitchers.
“I think at least two or three of the new guys will be starters for us,” Arrieta said. “They’re going to come in and have a big impact and big roles immediately, so I think getting ready for the season in the fall is a big part of their development.
Arrieta, who pitched on the USA national team in Cuba over the summer, said he pitches one simulated game, an abbreviated scrimmage involving only a batter, catcher and pitcher, and one intra-squad game weekly with fielders. On his off days, he said he has bullpen sessions to maintain arm strength.
Senior pitcher Dillon Farish is recovering from an off-season shoulder surgery, and redshirt freshman pitcher Eric Marshall will not throw until December because of arm problems, Schlossnagle said. Senior Chase Perry and freshman Steven Maxwell are also not pitching, he said.
Woodruff said he looks forward to intra-squad games in fall practice because they are welcomed breaks from everyday drills.
“That’s probably the most fun part for everyone here because we don’t have to just get drilled with ground balls,” Woodruff said. “We can actually get out and have some fun.”
Fall practice culminates with the Purple-White World Series, a five-game intra-squad series that begins Friday night at Lupton Stadium.
Schlossnagle said the team is motivated to improve after last season’s loss in the NCAA Regional.
“You hate to put anything on a team, but I will just expect us to play deep into postseason,” Schlossnagle said. “This is one of the better teams I’ve ever coached, and I am sure their expectation is to play deep into June. I am hoping that will happen.