TCU Horned Frogs
Overall Rank: #11
Conference Rank: #1 Mountain West Conference
TCU won their sixth consecutive Mountain West Conference regular season crown in 2011 and reached their 17th straight NCAA Tournament. Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle is headed into his ninth year as the Horned Frogs skipper. A TCU squad that hit .306 last spring, returns 13 lettermen including six starters in the field and a starting pitcher and brings in 17 new faces. TCU hosted an NCAA Regional for the third straight year in 2011 and should benefit from the 34 home games on the 2012 schedule, the most ever for the program.
2011: 43-19, 20-3
2011 Postseason: NCAA - Eliminated in Fort Worth Regional (losses to Oral Roberts and Dallas Baptist)
Coach: Jim Schlossnagle, 9th Season
Catcher Josh Elander, a member of the USA National Team, hit .333 with five homers. The junior also walked 28 times. Jantzen Witte played all 62 games for the Horned Frogs in 2011. He posted a .331 batting average, collected 84 hits, 21 doubles and 45 RBI. Jason Coats, drafted in the 12th round by the Orioles, returns for his senior season after hitting .325, scoring 52 times, with 81 hits and a team leading eight home runs and 56 RBI. Senior outfielder Brance Rivera hit .324 and slugged seven home runs. Red-shirt senior Zac Jordan also hit over .300 at .303.
Andrew Mitchell, the lone returning starting pitcher, was named Freshman All-American after last season. A 2011 selection for the USA Collegiate National Team, Mitchell was 6-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 2011, striking out 73 in 76 innings of work. Stefan Crichton was also a Freshman All-American and 43rd round pick of the Rangers last year. He made 24 appearances out of the bullpen, recording a 1.98 ERA, fanning 42 in 50 innings. Red-shirt Kaleb Merck comes back after sitting out a season to undergo Tommy John surgery. In 2010 Merck came on in relief 22 times, posting a team leading 1.42 ERA. Freshman right hander Jerrick Suitor was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 35th round in 2011, named the Indiana Times Male Athlete of the Year, earned High School All-American honors as a senior and was a multi-sport star at Valparaiso High School. Lefthander Brandon Finnegan was selected by the Rangers in the 45th round of the draft. He was All-State his senior season at Southwest High School in Fort Worth.
Who to Watch:
Infielder Kevin Cron was a third round pick of the Seattle Mariners last June. The highly decorated freshman should be a solid addition to the Horned Frog lineup. The 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year in Arizona was also a two-time High School All-American and finished school as the state’s career home run record holder with 60, 27 of those in a single season, another state record. His senior year he hit .560 at Mountain Pointe High. Derek Odell, a 42nd round draftee of the Red Sox, was a Prep All-American and was the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame Athlete of the Year at Canyon High School in Texas. Freshman right-hand pitcher Travis Evans joins TCU for the 2012 season. Evans hails from Round Rock High where he was a 2011 High School All-American.
The Horned Frogs returning experience and newcomers have them and Coach Schlossnagle in solid position to continue their dominance of the Mountain West and succeed in the post season. With five players that hit over .300 coming back and the addition of Cron’s and Odell’s sticks to the lineup, TCU should have no trouble scoring runs. With the veteran arms of Mitchell, Crichton and Merck, Schlossnagle’s squad will be a difficult opponent in the conference and the 23 teams they face that reached the NCAA Tournament in 2011. In their last season in the Mountain West, expect the Horned Frogs to capture their seventh consecutive conference title, host a Regional for the fourth straight year and have a good chance to return to Omaha in June.
Projected Postseason: NCAA
At Bats: Jantzen Witte, INF, 254
Hits: Jantzen Witte, INF, 84
Home Runs: Jason Coats, OF, 8
RBIs: Jason Coats, OF, 56
Runs: Jason Coats, OF, 52
Stolen Bases: Brance Rivera, OF, 14
Wins: Andrew Mitchell, P, 6; Stefan Crichton, P, 6
Innings Pitched: Andrew Mitchell, P, 76
Strikeouts: Andrew Mitchell, P, 73
Saves: Stefan Crichton, P, 5
Madness 2012 MLB Draft Rankings:
#35 Josh Elander
Madness 2012 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#26 Kevin Cron