Monday Morning Manager: October 29th, 2012 (Part 1)

TCU Baseball has had a really good year, and 2012-2013 is looking really good so far. - (KEITH ROBINSON)

The Monday Morning Manager is back this week after taking an extremely long break over the last six+ weeks. Listen folks, I moved to a new state, started a new job, got engaged... I have been f'ing busy! But I promise, I'm back, so let's get started!

And, officially, I say WELCOME BACK TO THE MONDAY MORNING MANAGER, the first edition of MMM for 2013. When I started writing this kinda-not weekly column back during the summer of 2011, I started with just a few readers who I judged mostly to be the parents of current and former players who wanted to know what was new with their sons. Since then (yes, I counted), over 75,000 people have viewed my columns in what has been an incredibly fun 18 month run, I have no plans on stopping anytime soon.

Some things will be changing, such as frequency of posts, simply due to the fact that I have more responsibility here at Frogs O' War trying to run an entire website, not just one little side of it. But, I promise, my team and I are going to cover TCU Baseball better than anybody else, both in terms of information as well as analysis that you simply will not get in any other circle.

This week's MMM will be split into two parts: Part One is going to cover a recap of the 2012 MLB and MiLB seasons for our former Frogs, taking a look at how the year went... Here is a preview, there was a lot of good, but unfortunately a lot of bad, we will take a look at things piece by piece. Also, we will have an update on the 2013 recruiting class for TCU Baseball, which has grown quite well since our last report and I will have some positive news on the commits that are currently in the fold... Preview: TCU Baseball has simply become a recruiting juggernaut in the state of Texas, to the extent that guys who are considered 100% future Texas commits, or Rice commits, decide that TCU is their future home and the place they want to be, and they are unabashed in saying so... I love that, and the talent pool continues to grow as a result.

Part Two will be a wrap up of TCU Baseball Fall Ball, which by all reports has gone extremely well. Obviously, living in Kansas City makes it hard to watch scrimmages, but I am lucky to have had several sets of eyes at the Rice scrimmage, several intersquads including the Purple-White series and the final scrimmage that took place last night vs. Stephen F. Austin. There, again, is a lot of good. But, there is also some bad, and we will take a look at all of it to try and figure out exactly how the pre-fall questions were answered, what questions were created coming out of the fall, and what assumptions we now have looking ahead to February.

So, lots and lots of goodies to get to both today and tomorrow, yes folks it is good to be back. Let's dive right in, the 2013 recruiting class.

2013 TCU BASEBALL RECRUITING CLASS

As of 10/27/2012, here are the commits I have found for the 2013 class.

POSITION PLAYERS (NAME, HS POSITION)
Connor Beck, OF
Will Foreman, OF/C
Will Fox, OF/IF
Eric Garza, MIF
Billy McKinney, OF
Noah McGowan, OF (Correction: Noah is class of 2014, not 2013)
Walker Pennington, OF
TJ Scott, OF

PITCHERS(NAME, PITCHING ARM)
Tyler Alexander, LHP
Ryan Burnett, LHP
Brandon Gilson, LHP
Brian Howard, RHP
Jordan Kipper, RHP
Alex Mata, RHP
Robby Medel, RHP

I have a couple of notes for you regarding what is currently a very balanced class...

- Billy McKinney was the big get for this class, a top flight bat from Texas in the 2013 class. He is a HUGE draft risk, teams gobble up plus bats these days (especially lefty power) and I expect, right now, he will be a huge draft risk next summer... Probably a top five round guy. Certainly, that doesn't rule out the Frogs at all, we will just have to wait and see what happens.

- Walker Pennington is another top flight athlete, this time from the right side of the plate. We shall see how his stock adjusts over the next couple of months, he is yet another bat that will likely draw the eyes of Major League teams.

- Tyler Alexander, Brandon Gilson, and Ryan Burnett are all very strong arms in this class... Jordan Kipper is a transfer from Central Arizona JUCO and a former teammate of Kevin Cron. Overall, there are some very projectable arms in this class but it is also a class that you can probably see showing up in good numbers, which is a good thing considering what TCU could lose following the 2013 season.

- Tyler Alexander continues to impress at different showcases, he is incredibly smooth with his delivery and is fairly steady with an 87-89 fastball with a lot of room to grow. He is likely another draft risk for the Frogs (projectable lefties go fast) but not as much as McKinney.

- Brian Howard turned a lot of heads at the recent WWBA Championships... He threw well in competition and had a bunch of scouts watching at other throwing sessions, was consistently 86-89, touching 91 or 92 on one Mets scout's gun. The guy is 6'9", 190lbs. and is already drawing the dreaded Chris Young comp. He isn't THAT yet (missing that breaker), but the body type fits and if he can replicate Young's greatest asset, a fastball that is always moving down, he will do just fine. And if he keeps pitching like this, he might just have some change in his pocket come June 2013.

- Eric Garza is incredibly smooth in the middle infield, a position that is getting a little crowded at the moment... You probably see all those OF'ers and are a little confused by the recruiting philosophy of TCU... Obviously, these guys will not all be playing in the OF at TCU, some will be moved around as necessary, they are all solid athletes so their playing time will likely depend on their ability to adjust and produce, while also doing all the little things necessary to play on a Jim Schlossnalge team.

2012 FORMER FROG MLB/MiLB SEASON RECAP

- 2012 was a mixed bag for our former Frogs on the diamond, one could probably argue that the amazing good we saw from Carpenter really overshadows the bad, but I will let you decide on that. Overall, TCU saw six guys in the bigs in 2012, hopefully all six will be back there again in 2013. And now, our person by person recap of the 2012 MLB/MiLB seasons.

ANDREW CASHNER (RHP, SAN DIEGO PADRES)
33 Games (3-4), 5 Starts, 46.1 IP, 4.27 ERA (3.06xFIP), 52/19 SO/BB

- I love me some Cash, unfortunately injuries kept us from seeing a lot of him this year. Better, than 2011, when the arm injuries kept him out almost indefinitely, but still not optimal. Cashner started the year as a reliever for the Padres, setting up Houston Street, was then moved to closer when Street was hurt, then was tried out as a starter and that is when things went wrong. Cash went down with another arm injury (forearm, I think) and was out for over a month, only to come back for two more appearances at the end of the year. Considering the extremely limited action he saw in 2011, this is a step in the right direction and I think the Padres know how to handle him going forward, this kid is one injury free season from putting it all together.

MATT CARPENTER (UT, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS)
114 Games (340 PA), .294/.365/.463, 6 HR, 44 R, 46 RBI, 1.6 WAR, .346 BABIP

- What more can be said that has not already been said about this guy... He was the utility, do it all guy for the Cardinals all year long, including well into the post season. He had huge hits all through the year, including in the post season. He fell just short of the magical 2 WAR value for a utility guy, but hey I think the Cardinals will take what they got. While his future is still not certain, it is clear the Cardinals are planning to find a way to get him into the lineup on a more consistent basis. There is a school of thought that having a consistent position, day in and day out, will help Carp's offensive production... I agree, and would love to see him at 2B in 2013 (And, initial offseason reports have the Cardinals planning on putting him there in 2013).

SCOTT ATCHISON (RHP, BOSTON RED SOX)
42 Games (2-1), 51.1 IP, 1.58 ERA, 36/9 SO/BB, 3.42 xFIP, 1 WAR

- Scott had a great season, until it was ended with TJ Surgery. The Red Sox stuck with him early, opting for senior leadership in what was an injury riddled Red Sox bullpen, and Scott did nothing but perform. The last thing I saw was Scott was going to have the surgery and try and rehab before coming back next season and I hope to see that if he wants it, I am sure he can find a team to give him that lottery ticket again... But, we might not see him in MLB game action until 2014, just keep that in mind.

BRYAN HOLADAY (C, DETROIT TIGERS)
MLB: 6 Games (12 AB), .250/.250/.333, 1 2B
AAA: 75 Games (250 AB), .240/.312/.320, 2 HR, 18 R, 25 RBI, 43/22 SO/BB

- Bryan got his first MLB dip in 2012 for the American League Champion Tigers, where he currently sits at third-ish on the catching depth chart. Depending on what the Tigers do with Gerald Laird in the offseason, Bryan could be in line to fight for the backup catchers gig in ST next year, which would be great to see. His AAA numbers were a mixed bag to be sure, the offense hasn't been there but considering the state of catching in baseball right now, a dependable catcher with a great arm and instincts is valuable if he can give you a 700 OPS throughout the season.

JAKE ARRIETA (RHP, BALTIMORE ORIOLES)
MLB: 24 Games (3-9), 114.2 IP, 6.20 ERA, 109/35 SO/BB,
MiLB: 10 Games (5-4), 56 IP, 4.02 ERA, 54/28 SO/BB

- Jake began 2012 as the opening day starter for Baltimore, an eventual playoff team. He ended it in AAA, trying to find his command. Obviously, Jake has the stuff to compete at any level and the Orioles see that but he has to be able to throw strikes with all his pitches consistently to find his way back to a major league rotation. I am hopeful, the guy is too good to not figure it out.

SAM DEMEL (RHP, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS)
MLB: 1 Game (0-1), 1.0 IP, 9.00 ERA, 0/1 SO/BB
MiLB: 56 Games (1-4), 66.1 IP, 4.07 ERA, 75/22 SO/BB

- A little bit of a lost year for Sam, who couldn't figure it out after a post-spring demotion to AAA. I kept thinking he would figure it out and get a call up, but it never happened. He did get a September call-up, but even that didn't end well. We shall see what happens this offseason, the Diamondbacks are going to be making 40-man decisions and I am sure Sam is at the bottom of that power ranking. At this point, we might want to hope for a trade to a small market team needing bullpen arms to try and spur the next step in Sam's comeback.

CHAD HUFFMAN (OF, CLEVELAND INDIANS)
MiLB: 67 Games (234 AB), .282/.350/.453, 6 HR, 34 R, 33 RBI, 58/23 SO/BB

- Chad, no longer on the 40-man and slowly heading towards journeyman AAAA OF'er, spent the entire season at AAA battling it out. The SO are too high, but the OPS came out strong. The power numbers are down a bit, which is frustrating, but overall he certainly has nothing to be ashamed about. It will be interesting to see what happens with Chad, the Indians are trying to build but it isn't clear where Chad might fit in right now.

MATT CURRY (1B, PITTSBURGH PIRATES)
MiLB (AA + AAA): 113 Games (401 AB), .287/.354/.479, 11 HR, 53 R, 78 RBI, 107/44 SO/BB

- Matt had one of the standout seasons for Frog alumni, spending 99% of his time at AA Altoona before a late season call up to AAA for the PCL Playoffs. Matt has quickly risen up the ranks of Pirate prospects and is now solidly in consideration for the "next step" in that organization. Now, if you haven't heard, the Pirates are patently absurd with their organizational philosophy and how they "train" their young guys (Think: Navy Seals, Boot Camp, ect.). We shall see what happens with Matt next spring, a great month and he could be on the bench with the ML team, all other scenarios have him in AAA to start the year with a spot on the 40 man roster quickly approaching.

GREG HOLLE (RHP, MILWAUKEE BREWERS)
MiLB: 43 Games (3-7), 61.2 IP, 3.94 ERA, 37/13 SO/BB

- Greg had another solid year at High A for the Brewers, but you have to think that his career has possibly stalled out at this level. The Brewers seem unwilling to promote him to AA, the biggest jump in professional baseball which means Greg probably will have a decision to make. I envision Greg as a gamer, willing to go out there and fight for his spot to prove he belongs, I hope some team (Brewers, or other) will give him that shot.

JEROME PENA (IF, BALTIMORE ORIOLES)
MiLB (A-, A, A+): 54 Games (205 AB), .288/.359/.415, 3 HR, 31 R, 20 RBI, 51/19 SO/BB

- Jerome certainly earned a lot of frequent flyer miles in 2012, making stops at four different leagues: Advanced Spring Training, Low A Short Season, Single A, and High A where he finished out the year. Overall, given all the change, you have to be impressed with what Jerome was able to produce for the year and his consistency despite the always changing scenery. He played 2B exclusively throughout the year, and while the offensive numbers weren't great for that position he did prove he belonged and met the challenge the Orioles presented him. I would guess Jerome would start at High A or AA next year, if he continues to grind and improve I would expect the Orioles will continue to show faith in the youngster and his abilities.

KYLE WINKLER (RHP, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS)
MiLB: 31 Games (3-1), 43 IP, 5.44 ERA, 38/24 SO/BB

- Kyle had some struggles with injury throughout the year, but more seemed to lose all command which caused the Diamondbacks to hold him at High A for the entire season. He pitched exclusively as a reliever in 2012 and it appears the D-Backs see his two pitch combo as reliever material going forward, not as a starter. But, he won't be going anywhere if he can't get his control back. Kyle is an excellent fast-pace candidate for the D-Backs if he gets it back, a good ST will likely see a quick promotion to AA and beyond if he can prove he has turned a corner.

TAYLOR FEATHERSTON (IF, COLORADO ROCKIES)
MiLB: 105 Games (378 AB), .299/.393/.495, 12 HR, 75 R, 53 RBI, 87/53 SO/BB

- You can look at T-Bird's season in one of two ways... He spent the entire year at single-A, splitting time between four positions: 2B, 3B, SS, and DH. The errors are still there, 17 in total. The offense is still there, 850+ OPS with 75 runs is very acceptable for a second baseman, and that appears to be where the Rockies see him right now. He played the vast majority of games at 2B in 2012 and I would expect him to see a promotion in 2013 that will try to push him one step further in his career, kind of a make it or break it move. Either way, he is still the frustrating enigma we dealt with for years here at TCU, one hopes he can put aside the mental stuff and put it all together for once.

TYLER LOCKWOOD (RHP, BOSTON RED SOX)
MiLB(A, A+): 48 Games (5-3), 73 IP, 3.82 ERA, 54/29 SO/BB

- It was an interesting year for Lock... He started the year at high-A but was demoted early to single-A where he really flourished in his role, pitching a remarkable 73 innings. The results were also better for him, as he saw better return at the lower level of competition where he is certainly a "veteran" by age and years of service. Like Holle, I don't know where Tyler fits in right now for the Red Sox, where his path is. It will be interesting to see where his next steps go, either in baseball or out of it.

MATT PURKE (LHP, WASHINGTON NATIONALS)
MiLB: 3 Games (0-2), 15.1 IP, 5.87 ERA, 14/12 SO/BB

- Matt's year was actually worse than that line appears. He pitched the majority of the year in the Florida Gulf Coast League back fields, mostly in bullpens and simulated games. The idea was to try and fine tune his delivery and hopefully build up some arm strength. Unfortunately, it was determined that surgery would ultimately be needed and Purke was scoped last month to remove scar tissue and repair cartilage in his shoulder. The doctors who came out of the operation reported his shoulder is in sound condition and there are no structural problems, so we will have to wait and see how 2013 goes with the now clean and ready arm. I expect more time in Florida throwing bullpens, building strength and consistency in his arm action, preparing for competition in 2014.

KYLE VON TUNGELN (OF, COLORADO ROCKIES)
MiLB: 44 Games (151 AB), .258/.401/.384, 1 HR, 33 R, 20 RBI, 36/34 SO/BB

- Kyle signed quickly after the draft and UCLA series and headed out to single-A short season ball. He got off to a hot start but slowed down considerably towards the end of the season which could be expected given the massive amount of baseball he played last year. Still, the plate recognition was there, as was the defense, and if he can get back to his hot swinging ways in 2013 I would bet he will move fast through the Rockies system, I expect a high-A start next year.

JOSH ELANDER (C, ATLANTA BRAVES)
MiLB: 36 Games (123 AB), .260/.366/.439, 4 HR, 19 R, 19 RBI, 19/16 SO/BB

- Josh also signed quickly after being drafted and headed to the Rookie League where he remained through the end of the year. Josh caught primarily through the end of August, and I have no idea where he will start next year... High-A seems likely. The Braves gave him some solid cash to sign, so you would expect a fairly aggressive approach from them next year, for college signees the clock is always ticking.

KEVIN ALLEN (RHP, KANSAS CITY ROYALS)
MiLB: 19 Games (2-1), 28.1 IP, 4.76 ERA, 30/11 SO/BB

- Kevin also headed to rookie ball after signing with the Royals where he pitched fairly sporadically through the end of the year. Kevin might end up as one of those guys who gets dropped after ST next year when the Royals cut their roster down. Those late top 10 round picks turned into guys who teams could get, give very little to sign, and then dump, I hope Kevin isn't that guy but we will just have to wait and see.

ERIK MILLER (RHP, CINNCINATTI REDS)
MiLB: 28 Games (1-4), 29.2 IP, 9.20 ERA, 27/33

- Erik also suffered some tough early season demotions which landed him in rookie ball to end the season, and the catalyst is clear: Walks and control, and the total lack of. Hope to see him regain this, the question for Erik has never been the stuff, he has that, he needs the control and approach to pitching to improve before he can take the next stop.

JOE WEIK (OF, Abilene PRAIRIE DOGS)
INDY: 96 Games (378 AB), .339 BA, 74 R, 71 RBI, 14 HR, 30/26 SO/BB

- Joe was traded from the Gateway Grizzlies to the Abilene Prairie Dogs in May, where he simply got hot and didn't stop hitting through the end of the playoffs. Obviously, independent league ball is a different type of game, but it is still competition and Joe was one of the best in 2012. We shall see if that leads anywhere next year.


PROFESSIONAL FROGS

(Name, Team, Separated by Final 2012 Level)

Major Leagues
Andrew Cashner (Padres)
Matt Carpenter (Cardinals)
Scott Atchison (Red Sox) (60 Day DL)
Bryan Holaday (Tigers)

Triple AAA
Jake Arrieta (Orioles)
Sam Demel (Diamondbacks)
Chad Huffman (Indians)
Matt Curry (Pirates)

Double AA
(none)

High A
Greg Holle (Brewers)
Jerome Pena (Orioles)
Kyle Winkler (Diamondbacks)

Low A
Taylor Featherston (Rockies)
Tyler Lockwood (Red Sox)

Low A Short Season
Kyle Von Tungeln (Rockies)

Rookie League
Josh Elander (Braves)
Kevin Allen (Royals)
Erik Miller (Reds)
Matt Purke (Nationals)

Independent League
Joseph Weik-

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