Monday Morning Manager: "Destiny" (March 4th, 2013)

Two of these men are lost... One, has been found. - KEITH ROBINSON

It was a successful week for TCU Baseball, going 3-1 including a series win over Jacksonville. The pitching had a fantastic week, and the offense is starting to figure things out. But, there are some major questions that have yet to be answered, we talk about them and this team's "Destiny" here today.

To hear our recent podcast, which contains an interview of TCU Baseball Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle, please click here.

WEEK IN REVIEW

- Breaking down three blowouts and one close game vs. a top line starter? Eh, pass.

- Let's start with the pitching staff, which I think took a step forward this week.

--- Brandon Finnegan had a tough start on Friday, but there were signs of progress. The strikeout totals were nice, but the wildness was not. He is still the Frogs Friday starter, in my opinion, but TCU might switch him and Morrison this upcoming weekend... Morrison had a smaller pitch count yesterday thanks to the blow out, I could see them bumping him up a day to try and get Finnegan out of that prime Friday slot.

--- Morrison has been great, picking right up where he left off last year, except better: He has learnt how to pitch within himself, and I have to believe having a teacher like Saarloos (who was very Morrison-esk in his career) in his ear everyday is a good thing. Friday starter? Yep, I feel good about that. Or keep it as is. Either way, Morrison is the rock right now.

--- Young was better this Sunday, but not great. Trevor Seidenberger is going to get the start this Tuesday against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, and if he replicates his stellar performance from the previous week, I have a hard time believing he won't be the Frog's Sunday starter vs. Kansas in a couple weeks. Young is great, but if the Frogs could harness his plus stuff in a bullpen role (as they did vs. Ole Miss), he could be a serious weapon going forward. Riley Ferrell and Alex Young as a 1-2 punch in the 6-7th innings... That is a wonderful dream.

--- And the bullpen, specifically Mitchell and Frey. Mitchell has found it, whatever that was, I love what I am seeing out of him. Confidence? Release point? I don't know, but he has been great. Frey has also been amazing, it appears a light switch has been flipped cause he is attacking batters differently than he ever had before. Trey Teakell, Travis Evans, Riley Ferrell, Justin Scharf, and Tejay Antone each deserve accolade here but I only have so much copy folks. Point being: Right now, the bullpen looks like an asset, getting guys innings appears to be its biggest problem.

- Now, the lineup... (As I would guess it is, more or less, right now)

CF Cody Jones (.211/.318/.368)
DH Boomer White (.500/.538/1.000)
3B Jantzen Witte (.351/.405/.703)
2B Derek Odell (.216/.318/.216)
1B Kevin Cron (.095/.156/.143)
RF Dylan Fitzgerald (.313/.450/.563)
LF Brett Johnson (.242/.306/.242)
SS Keaton Jones (.333/.429/.333)
C Jerrick Suiter (.097/.200/.097)

--- Run production is way up, production with RISP is way up, OBP is way up, and the lineup is actually beginning to function like it should. I think that there are a couple more guys who are going to fight their way into this thing (Hennessey, Hendrix) but guys like Fitzgerald and White are making it hard for HC Jim Schlossnagle to take them out. One thought: Cody Jones did way more this week in terms of offensive production, but it still isn't at a level you would be happy with for your leadoff hitter. Could Dylan Fitzgerald take that spot, moving Cody Jones down to the nine hole? Hmmmm.....

--- Keaton Jones has been a pleasant surprise so far this year, the biggest thing I am seeing from him: Patience, contact, and confidence. He isn't the kind of athlete that can expect to use his insane tools to cover up obvious flaws, he has to perfect his approach to the game to be productive, and I am seeing that so far in 2013.

--- I can't write this column and not talk about how impressed I am with Boomer White... The little guy can hit, what else is there to say? I like his frame, small strike zone that he impressively controls. He has a very fast bat, kind of long through the zone at times but he can turn on a fastball. And, best part, he makes a ton of contact, and when you put the ball in play good things happen. He isn't going to keep this up (obviously), but man it would be fun if he could. He still isn't a catcher at this level, but a DH or LF is tolerable, probably DH to protect your defense. No matter where he plays, he needs to play, his offense has been a major shot of... confidence for this team.

DESTINY

At church tonight, there was lots of talk about "Jerusalem is our destiny..." and the idea that yes, we all have a destiny, and it is Jerusalem (or, death, in other words). Catholics aren't typically so up-front with their belief in predetermined outcomes, but this specific biblical reference got me thinking...

What is this team's destiny?

Sure, there is a lot of ball yet to be played. As LOST taught us, there are a lot of variables that could effect any eventuality and we do not yet know how this is going to shake out.

But, on the other hand, we have watched this team for 10 games now, we know something about its character and makeup.

If preseason prediction posts are dumb, what are early season predictions?

I would venture this thought, and I encourage you to ponder this today: This team's destiny is tied solely to its heart.

Here is how the exercise might work... Think to yourself, right now, what you think this team's ceiling is, what they could do if they play at their best (you can't control other variables, just your own). Then, take that answer, and measure its qualifications... Talent? Experience? The schedule?

Whatever you just listed, I challenge it. Talent? Find me seven other teams nationally that have more talent, top to bottom, than TCU. Experience? Find me a lineup with more ABs in their career, and find me a weekend rotation with more career starts as a unit... There aren't many.

Schedule? Just got soft. The RPIs for TCU's upcoming schedule... 243, 223, 142, 139, 120, 22, 264, 168, 187, 68, 198, 106, 120, 34, 134, 105, 141, 127, 120, 89.

Through the end of 2013, TCU Baseball will play four teams with an RPI under 100.

So, back to my original point, what is this team's destiny? I don't know, but I think it is tied to its heart. Simply put, how bad does this team want to fight and grind to win? How much does it matter, on a deep personal level, to each and every athlete in that TCU uniform? My opinion: If it doesn't matter that much, then our ceiling is low. If it does, then our ceiling is as high as we want it to be.

Nobody ever got anywhere in life without getting hit in the mouth once or twice, getting up, and stepping forward again to dredge ahead.

Time to dredge ahead, TCU.

TCU BASEBALL RECRUITING CLASSES

Here are the commits I have for TCU Baseball, classes of 2013 and 2014.

2014 Class
Noah McGowan, OF
Justin Twine, IF/RHP
Austen Wade, OF

Drew Gooch, LHP
Tyler Kolek, RHP

2013 Class
Connor Beck, OF
Garrett Crain, IF
Will Foreman, OF/C
Will Fox, OF
Eric Garza, MIF
Billy McKinney, OF/1B
Walker Pennington, IF/OF
TJ Scott, OF
Ty Slanina, OF

Tyler Alexander, LHP
Ryan Burnett, LHP
Brandon Gilson, LHP
Brian Howard, RHP
Jordan Kipper, RHP
Alex Mata, RHP
Robby Medel, RHP

PROFESSIONAL FROGS

(Name, Team, Separated by Final 2012 Level)

Major Leagues
Andrew Cashner (Padres)
Matt Carpenter (Cardinals)
Scott Atchison (Mets)
Bryan Holaday (Tigers)


Triple AAA
Jake Arrieta (Orioles)
Sam Demel (Astros)
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)
Kaleb Merck (Twins)
Matt Purke (Nationals)

Independent League
Joseph Weik
Brad Furnish

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